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Greek and Roman Medicine at the British Museum (Paperback)

The Instruments and Accoutrements of Ancient Medicine

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Medicine & Health

Imprint: British Museum Press
Series: British Museum Research Publications
Pages: 200
Illustrations: 120
ISBN: 9780861592326
Published: 28th December 2023
Casemate UK Academic


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Strategies for the preservation of health and for the prevention and treatment of illness and disease have been discerned in the surviving written records and material remains of most societies since earliest times. Compared to the prehistoric past the evidence for the ancient Greek and Roman periods is comparatively full, though still sparse or lacking in some key areas. Most accounts of the history of Greek and Roman medicine are based on ancient medical texts. As a study of the subject through its material remains, this book will be a unique and major contribution to the understanding of ancient medical implements and surgical instruments, of surgery, and of the history of medicine. In addition to medical instruments, the British Museum collection also includes an important range of objects which help to illustrate the multi-faceted approach to healing in antiquity. They include one of the largest holdings of collyrium-stamps − small inscribed stone tablets which were used to mark sticks of eye medicine; Greek inscriptions honouring public physicians; stone statues, bronze figurines and engraved gemstones depicting the principal healer deities; and marble and terracotta models of body parts (‘anatomical votives’) dedicated to the healer deities by those seeking divine cures. Together with the instrumentation, the publication will show how they encompass most aspects of ancient medicine and represent starting points from which to develop discussions of strategies for health and healing.

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