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Ancient Medicine was based on Belief in the Supernatural. Is this true?

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Ancient Medicine was based on Belief in the Supernatural. Is this true? (What evidence is there to support this statement?) Ancient medicine covers medicine through Prehistoric, Egyptian, Greek and Roman times. Religion and belief in the supernatural were key factors in the development of ancient medicine. They influenced the way that people thought and the way in which they lived their lives. The supernatural could be used to explain aspects of medicine that people didn't understand at that time. Not everything was blamed on the supernatural, people did have some natural ideas about medicine and it's causes and treatments. As the prehistoric age was a long time ago and no written language had been developed at the time it is difficult to get much evidence from this period. We do however know that trepanning was common practice. This was when a small hole was drilled into the patient's head to release evil spirits that were believed to be the cause of the patient's bad health. ...read more.


This involved having vital organs removed from the body and preserving them in jars. The bodies were embalmed in spices and wrapped in bandages. The Egyptians could have learnt a lot about the anatomy from this. The Ancient Egyptians also believed in spirits and like prehistoric people they too used charms, amulets and spells to keep them away. The Egyptians had more time to actually think about their medical ideas. This resulted in them having more natural theories on the causes and treatment of illness. They thought that if somebody was ill it could be that their blood vessels were blocked or flooding, this was because they compared the human body to the River Nile. The Greeks, like the Egyptians, believed that there were many gods. One of these Gods was called Asclepios and was the Greek God of healing. Asclepions were temples that were named after Asclepios and this was where Greeks went if they were ill in the hope that Asclepios would visit them in the night and heal them. ...read more.


Galen was a doctor who was in Rome for twenty years. He was a natural thinker. He thought that it was important to dissect bodies to learn more about the anatomy. However in some places this was forbidden because of religious beliefs so he had to dissect bodies of apes and other animals. His findings were recorded in books and passed down to future generations. If we look at all the evidence we can see that the supernatural was very important in Ancient medicine and a lot of the medical ideas were indeed based on the supernatural. However this certainly does not mean that medicine was based entirely on the supernatural. There were many physicians whose treatments were based around natural medical ideas but they were often restricted in their exploration of the medical world by the religious framework in which they had to work. Then of course some cures worked because they were based on medical fact but at the time people believed it they was down to the supernatural. ...read more.

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