"Describe the developments of Medicine Through Time"

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h/w      “Describe the developments of Medicine Through Time”    9th September 2002

Over the last 3000 years medicine and medical knowledge has progressed radically. Medical knowledge saves people’s lives and improves their quality of life. If you’re not healthy, medical treatments can usually make you more comfortable and sometimes offer a complete cure. This knowledge has evolved over many centuries - from primitive brain  to modern  therapy - but most major medical discoveries have been made in the past 200 years. Medicine is now recognised as science; however this was not always the case.

We start off with prehistoric peoples, who believed strongly that evil spirits were responsible for causing disease. However, because there was no writing system, symptoms of disease were not recorded and it was difficult to pass on knowledge. This shows progression because man is recognising disease and trying to find methods to treat it.

Much later, the ancient Egyptians attempted to provide explanations for the causes of disease. The development of writing enabled them to record symptoms and cures for illnesses. However although the Egyptians managed to observe the human anatomy and come up with explanations as to how the body works they still had very strong religious beliefs, associating illnesses to have spiritual rather than physical causes. The ancient Egyptians were able to make considerable progress by writing down what they had found and observed so they could pass their cures on to other people. They were also able to examine what they saw and diagnose proposed cures. The only draw back with this being that it was forbidden to dissect any parts of the body needed for the after life!

The development of medicine in ancient Greece followed a similar kind of pattern. Philosopher scientists such as Hippocrates began to come up with rational explanations, based on observations. One of the more famous explanations for disease and illness put forward was “the Four Humours” theory, based on people studying the world around them and deciding that it was made up of four elements. It was actually quite a simple theory which shows progression because people are trying to look at the world around them and rather than simply explaining it all in religious or spiritual terms, as had previously been done, they looked for logical explanations for things. These new ideas existed alongside religious beliefs – but they did not replace them.

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        During the time of the Ancient Greeks and Romans (600BC-400AD) there was a faster rate of change in medical knowledge. The Romans accepted the theory of “the Four Humours”. The main progress made by the Romans was their recognition that diseases were spread by poor drinking water and poor disposal of sewage. They built aqueducts to bring fresh water into their settlements from fresh water springs and sewers to take the sewage into the rivers. The Romans also introduced public baths which they were very proud of. They could be found in most towns and cities throughout the Roman Empire ...

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