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Surgical instruments of ancient physicians. Credit: Kai Beercrafter / Adobe Stock

The Gory History of Barber Surgeons: Medieval Medicine Gone Mad

It’s no surprise that the history of medicine had a rocky and somewhat gruesome journey before reaching its current, modern state. From the earliest meddling in surgery in Classical Antiquity to the...
‘Ambroise Paré and the examination of a patient’ by James Bertrand. Source: Ji-Elle/ CC BY SA 3.0

9 Ancient Physicians and Legendary Healers that Changed Medicine Forever

Most people have heard of the eminent physician Hippocrates and his famous oath. But far fewer know of Shennong, Avicenna, and Andreas Vesalius – some of the lesser-known figures to have transformed...
A doctor performing eye surgery. The Ebers Papyrus discusses medical techniques and remedies. Source: Articles sur l’Egypte et son historie

The Ebers Papyrus: Medico-Magical Beliefs and Treatments Revealed in Ancient Egyptian Medical Text

The Ebers Papyrus is an ancient medical document that contains over 842 remedies for illnesses and injuries. It specifically focused on the heart, the respiratory system, and diabetes. The Papyrus...
Plague Doctor Mask, Steno Museum

Secrets Behind the Creepy Plague Doctor Mask and Costume

The plague doctor mask is one of the most recognizable symbols of the Black Death. Though the image is iconic the relationship may be a little anachronistic. While plague doctors have been plying...
Portion of Ibn Sīna’s Canon of Medicine folded into medieval text

Irish Translation of Ibn Sīna Medical Text Discovered in Medieval Book Binding

A recent discovery is demonstrating the influence of Islamic medicine on European physicians. A fragment from a book dating from the 1400s has revealed the influence of a Muslim Persian polymath on...
The August 7, 2018 Ibn Sina Google Doodle.

Who Was Ibn Sina and Why is He a Google Doodle?

A surprising Google Doodle has greeted users of the search engine in the UK. The image celebrates the 1038th birthday of Persian polymath Ibn Sina. For many in the West, this may be the first...
Fragment of talisman used to exorcise the sick, Assyrian era.

Mixing Magic and Medicine: New Study Shows Mesopotamian Doctors Had to Battle Demons

Analysis of a collection of clay tablets confirms that a Mesopotamian doctor had to deal with more than just physical ailments. The ancient healer was expected to exorcise demons, ward off witchcraft...
‘A maid bringing medicine and soup to her master who has a cold.’ (1857)

Medicine Maidens: Why Did Women Become the Primary Medical Providers in Early Modern Households?

A primary female occupation in the early modern period (AD 1500-1800) was that of medicine. Though there were formal doctors—known by various titles and with various tasks detailed by their...
Before Antibiotics:  Ancient Medical Procedures That Still Baffle Scientists

Before Antibiotics: Ancient Medical Procedures That Still Baffle Scientists

In the modern age, when we think of surgery, we think of doctors working in sterile environments using finely crafted tools on an anesthetised patient. That was not always the case. Early surgical...
Reenactment of Mongol battle

How Did They Do It? Masters of the Steppe: Battlefield Medicine and Gruesome Cures—Part III

Much is known about the ancient Mongol military and their incredible victories on the battlefield, but little is ever discussed about their arms, armor, horses, and logistics. What gear did they use...
Ludwig II of Bavaria: Suicide or Murder? How Did the Swan King Meet His End?

Ludwig II of Bavaria: Suicide or Murder? How Did the Swan King Meet His End?

Ludwig II of Bavaria was the favorite cousin of the famous Empress Elizabeth ''Sisi'', the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph II. His name became immortal due to the impressive castles he built during his...
Paracelsus

Paracelsus: the Father of Toxicology and the Enemy of Physicians

Toxicology is a branch of knowledge dealing with the scientific study of the characteristics and effects of poisons on living organisms. The man considered to be the ‘father’ of this discipline is...