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Medicine: Prehistoric Times And The Ancient World
The Greek physician, Galen, dissected Barbary apes as an alternative to humans.

Medicine: Prehistoric Times And The Ancient World

In GCSE History students will look at the world of medicine and the advancements that have been made over time. One period they will look at is from prehistory to the Ancient World.

This era covers a vast section of time, from poorly documented prehistory, through Ancient Egypt to Greece and Rome. There were considerable advances in the world of medicine during this period, not least in public health and hygiene.

Learn more about medicine in prehistory and the Ancient world in this eye-opening quiz.

The Romans were keen to have a clean water supply, and to be able to transport it where it was needed. What structures did they build in order to ensure this?
Many of these are still standing: monuments to Roman engineering and plumbing
At Pergamum, Galen found plenty of wounds to attend to. How had these victims sustained their injuries?
As soldiers in the Roman legions
As mercenaries in foreign armies
As members of criminal gangs fighting their rivals
As gladiators, in combat either against each other or against wild beasts
Galen thrived on wounds: he believed, for example, in pepper being sprayed on cold things and cucumber being used on hot things
Followers of the Greek god of healing, Asklepios, frequented temples where his presence could be felt. Which of the following sites did not hold a temple to this god?
It was believed that the god would visit the faithful, while they were asleep at the shrine
Julius Caesar issued a decree in 46 BC giving doctors a special status. What was this?
They were given noble status and made patricians
They were made Roman citizens
They were assured of a minimum rate of pay, that would give them a high standard of living
They were allowed to practise medicine unhindered
Rome was keen to attract medics, and to keep them
Galen was not allowed to dissect humans in Greece, so what animals did he use for this purpose?
Barbary apes
Wild boar
Wild goats
Galen maintained that the animals that he slaughtered were as good as humans - they had a very similar body structure
Alexandria, in Egypt, became a centre for medicine which attracted many Greek investigators. What was the main reason for its popularity?
It was a cosmopolitan community, and many people there were interested in medical research
It was easy to reach by sea from surrounding areas
Human dissection was allowed here - Alexandria was one of the few places where this was so
The nearby Nile Valley was a useful place to conduct investigations into malaria
Alexandria was in Egypt, but it was also a window onto a wider world
The Greeks believed that four "humours" existed in the human body, ideally in a state of equilibrium. One of these was "phlegm". What would be a more modern word for this substance?
Seminal fluid
It was thought that if an imbalance were to develop among the humours, then illness was not far away
In prehistoric times a form of treatment called trepanning was used. What did this involve?
Cutting a wide round hole in the skull, usually at the top
Making a small incision in the temple in order to bleed the skull cavity
Cutting vertically down the middle of the rib cage in order to observe the workings of the heart and the lungs
Cutting off the exterior of the nose to search for "humours"
This is a mysterious procedure, about which we know only from human remains. But what its purpose was can only be guessed
Where is the evidence to be found for Egyptian medical practice?
Inscriptions on stone within burial chambers
Writing found on cloth in tombs
Information from Ancient Greek sources, based on finds at Alexandria
Information brought out of Egypt by traders like the Phoenicians
The information is purely visual, and therefore hard to decipher
The Ancient Egyptians were admired for their hygiene. Which of the following practices was not used widely by them?
Mosquito nets
Frequent changes of clothing
Shaving of heads
Bathing in asses' milk
Historians have been impressed by the high standard of Ancient Egyptian hygiene
Author:  Edward Towne

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