Medicine Timeline

  • Galen a Greek, born in modern day Turkey and serving the Roman Emperor in the 2nd C CE is often recognised as the most accomplished Physician of antiquity.
  • In the 9th & 10th C the Muslim world saved the Greek texts from obscurity, absorbed their ideas, and through scientific endeavour improved the body of medical knowledge.
  • Foremost was 9th C Al-Razi who developed the scientific method to determine efficacy, set up modern style hospitals – not seen in Europe till 17th C.  In 1395 his medical encyclopaedia was one of only 9 books in use in the Medical Faculty in Paris.
  • 11th C Ibn Sina was  a polymath and another medical giant whose text books were in  use in many European Universities  up to  the 17th C.
  • In Medieval times the Christian West viewed illness either as divine punishment for sins, or as possession by evil spirits. Cures relied on magic and religious intervention.
  • Theriac, an anti-venom medicine, documented by Galen, was adopted  and re formulated by the Muslims and Chinese. When the Black Plague hit in mid 14th C it was reformulated again in multiple cities across Europe. Some formulations contained viper & opium and despite the fact none of them worked they were heavily marketed as cure-alls, up until the 18th C – probably leading to the term Snake Oil.
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