The Online Library of Knowledge

Medicine

History of medicine

A Greek physician (doctor) treating a patientA Greek physician (doctor) treating a patientMedicine is the science of diagnosing (identifying), treating and preventing diseases to make people healthy. Ancient beliefs that illnesses were caused by angry gods have been replaced over the centuries by a scientific approach that has led to the development of vaccines and other treatments to treat diseases. Skulls dating back to 10,000 BC show signs of trepanning: drilling holes in the bone, possibly to release evil spirits. The ancient Egyptians used herbs and drugs for treatment and their surgeons learned how to set broken bones. The first known doctor, called Imhotep, lived in Egypt in about 2600 BC.


HippocratesHippocrates

Hippocrates

The scientific approach to medicine was introduced by the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates (born around 460 BC) founded a school of medicine on the Greek island of Kos, where diagnosis of illness was based on thorough examination of patients, including making records about their condition. He believed that all diseases had a natural cause rather than a supernatural one, that is, caused by the gods. He also proposed that diet and exercise affected the human body. Such ideas led to Hippocrates being known as the Father of Medicine. 
The Asklepeion at KosThe Asklepeion at KosMany of Hippocrates' ideas and practices were still widely followed in Europe until the 19th century. Today’s doctors still swear to uphold a Hippocratic Oath, promising to treat the ill to the best of their ability, respect their privacy and teach medicine to others. 

The first medical school in Europe was founded at Salerno, Italy, in the 10th century.  

© 2019 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile