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The Medical Alchemist vt. The Uroscopy by Franz Christoph Janneck (1703–1761), (Science History Institute)

Medieval Physicians Used to Taste Patients’ Urine for Diagnosing Medical Conditions

The examination of urine (‘uroscopy’) as a method of medical diagnosis can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, but during the Middle Ages the examination of urine samples by physicians became...
Humans were mummified into honey candy. Source: Andrey Popov / Adobe Stock

Humans Were Mummified into Honey Candy in Arabian Medical Practice

While ancient history boasts a host of grisly medical recipes, one of the most intriguing and elaborate was the mellified man, a human being mummified into honey candy, which was then used to mend...
Jan Steen - The Lovesick Maiden [c.1660]. Source: Gandalf’s Gallery/CC BY-SA 2.0

Fake It Til’ You Make it: A History of the Placebo Effect

One of the most fascinating medical phenomena is the placebo effect. In medicine, a placebo is considered to be any medical treatment that is not “real.” This could be a fake pill, shot, or in some...
The Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Material Medica) is a 16th-century collection of medical knowledge. Source: Public domain

The Ben Cao Gang Mu – The Bible of Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Ben Cao Gang Mu , or Compendium Materia Medica , is an encyclopedic compendium written by the 16th-century Chinese doctor Li Shizhen. This compilation is said to be the most complete and...
Library in Stone: The Ica Stones of Professor Cabrera – Part I

Library in Stone: The Ica Stones of Professor Cabrera – Part I

In 1961, the Rio Ica burst its banks and flooded parts of the Ocucaje Desert. Was an earthquake responsible for the flood? When the water had retreated, the local farmers inspected the damage. Their...
Did Ancient Swiss Farmers Genetically Modify Opium Poppies?

Did Ancient Swiss Farmers Genetically Modify Opium Poppies?

When it comes to plants with powerful medical applications Asia can be called the ‘traditional home.’ However, this is not the case when it comes to opium poppies, for new research has shown their...
Ancient Egyptian Papyrus Reveals Secrets to Embalming the Face!

Ancient Egyptian Papyrus Reveals Secrets to Embalming the Face!

A newly translated papyrus from ancient Egypt dating back 3,500 years provides a rare insight into Egyptian embalming techniques. The ancient medical text details a procedure never identified before...
Study finds that medieval remedy found in 1000-year-old medical text could hold key to treating antibiotic-resistant infections. Source: shaiith / Adobe Stock

Medieval Remedy Could Treat Antibiotic-Resistant Infections

A possible medical breakthrough has been made by experts, all thanks to a 1000-year-old medieval English medical text. A treatment, that dates to the Dark Ages , is helping researchers to treat a...
Wood from an ancient bald cypress forest buried off the coast of Alabama was uncovered by storms. Newly exposed wood offers a unique habitat for marine organisms and creates a novel ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico. Source: Francis Choi

60,000-Year-Old Underwater Forest May Hold Next Medical Breakthrough!

About 60,000 years ago, pre-historic humans began emerging out of Africa and shared hunting places and cave residences with Neanderthal populations in what is today Europe. Meanwhile, on the other...
Ectocranial view of the brain surgery of paleopathological specimen: a) red arrow points to orifice on the mastoid process, and b) surgical preparation dimensions peripheral to trephination.         Source: Anagnostis P. Agelarakis / Adelphi University

Researchers Reveal Early Complex Brain Surgery in Ancient Greece

New research from Adelphi University has revealed the first forensically-assessed archaeological discovery of remains of a group of domineering mounted archer-lancers and their kin of the Eastern...
Ancient skulls bearing evidence of trephination - a telltale hole surgically cut into the cranium - found in Peru.             Source: University of Miami

Trephination: The Oldest Evidenced Surgery Still in Use Today?

Trephination (known also as trepanning, trepanation, trephining, or making a burr hole), is a surgical procedure, which involves the drilling of a hole in the skull of a living person. Trephination...
One of the ivory manikins reclining on its 'bed' with all its organs placed inside. Source: RSNA

Secrets of Medicine’s Mysterious Ivory Manikins Revealed

Little is known about the origins of manikins- small anatomical sculptures thought to be used by doctors four centuries ago- but now advanced imaging techniques have offered a revealing glimpse...
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...
Plates vi and vii of the Edwin Smith Papyrus

Edwin Smith Papyrus: 3,600-Year-Old Surgical Treatise Reveals Secrets of Ancient Egyptian Medical Knowledge

The Edwin Smith Papyrus is a medical treatise from ancient Egypt. This papyrus is named after Edwin Smith, the American collector of antiquities who purchased the papyrus. The Edwin Smith Papyrus is...
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...
‘Alexander of Macedon trusts the doctor Philip’ (1870s) by Henryk Siemiradzki. Alexander is drinking a draught prepared by his trusted physician Philip after suffering from a severe fever. Humoral theory was used to cure illnesses, from fever to cancer, in ancient Greece.

Bile, Cauterization, and Exercise: Cancer Treatment Was a Very Different Story in Ancient Greece

Cancer has existed since before the dawn of civilization. By the time of the ancient Greeks, cancer as a disease was already diagnosed by physicians, along with recommendations for its treatment. But...
Don’t look so worried Cromwell, she’s just asleep. Thomas Cromwell’s wife and daughters died of sweating sickness.

What was Sweating Sickness, the Mysterious Tudor Plague of Wolf Hall?

Derek Gatherer / The Conversation In the first episode of BBC historical drama Wolf Hall , based on Hilary Mantel’s novel of the same name, Thomas Cromwell returns home to find his wife and two...
Snake oil in Sapa.

Snake Oil Has Long Been Deemed A ‘Fake Medicine’, But It’s Not Guilty, It Really Does Cure!

In the late 19th century, microscopes enabled scientists to observe the microbial effectivity of medicines in the treatment of ailments and these new skills finally dislodged many traditional ‘...
Medieval science

The Grave That Heals: Irish Folktale Proven True as Soil from Priest’s Grave Shows Key to Fighting Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Traditionally ancient folk remedies are not treated seriously by medical researchers and professionals. However, some scientists are taking a new look at these remedies because some are believed to...
The conservation of papyrus requires above all craftsmanship, expertise and time. A specialized papyrus conservator was brought to Basel to make this 2000-year-old document legible again.

Experts Finally Decode 2000-year-old ‘Mirror Writing’ Papyrus

Since the 16th century, Basel has been home to a mysterious papyrus. With mirror writing on both sides, it has puzzled generations of researchers. A research team from the University of Basel has now...
Illustration of a monk tending to a sick patient.

The Incredible Medical Interventions of the Monks of Soutra Aisle

Soutra Aisle refers to a set of ruins in Scotland that were once part of a larger complex comprising a hospital and a friar. Excavations at Soutra Aisle have provided an extraordinary window into the...
Capture of the Pirate, Blackbeard, 1718

Medical supplies found aboard the wreck of Blackbeard's flagship

Over the last few years, researchers have gained some valuable insight on what life was like aboard Blackbeard’s most famous ship. In January 2015, marine archaeologists recovered medical equipment...

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