Archaeology and Medicine
Prehistory is the time before written records.
- Writing- introduced to Britain by the Romans- 43AD
Archaeology can tell us a lot about prehistoric people.
- Cave paintings & artwork- believed in a spirtitual world
- Explanations of illness- evil spirits- require spirtitual or religious cures
- Normadic hunter gatherers- small extended families- moved following food & resources
- Social organisation- no extension beyond family structure
- Stonehenge- involved large numbers- came together (food plentiful) & split up when it wasnt- allowed ideas to be shared
Progress in Prehistoric medicine would have been slow.
- Infrequency of mass gatherings & lack of writing- slow progress
- Excavations- inform on attitudes to human remians- some moved remains & brought out for ceremonies
- Fine & delicate stone tools (flint & obsidian)- surgery was feasible
Ancient Health and Beliefs
Aboriginal cultures give us clues about prehistory.
- Practical methods- setting broken bones & bandgaging with spiritual explanantions of illness & cure
- Witch doctors, shamans & medicine men- ability to cure & inflict illness
- Preventative medicine (warding off evil) is practised & healing (driving off evil)
- Rituals & sacrifice involved- rituals- use of herbs, potions & techniques of practical value- seen as magic rather than medicine
Archaeopathology is the study of ancient disease.
- Study ancient bodies- what disease & health problems occured, how they were treated & how they died
- Most evidence decayed to bones- limits info that can be gained
- Some bodies preserved- ice, peat bogs or mummification
- Trephining or trepanning- cutting holes in peoples heads- let evil spirits out?
- Modern evidence- trepanning - lead to altered mental sensations- could have been done for practical reasons- treat injurt or epliepsy etc