Medicine in iron age, Science


The other area, in which  the Greek developments  had a parallel in India, was medicine, although encouragement for this development  in the two cases came from diametrically different sources. The Carukas and Susruras  in India were roaming physiciarls who went about healing ordinary rural folk and fostered democratP:  thinking and world views. Greek medicine, on  the other hand, could continue its older -s  because of  the support it received from the aristocracy. In  the era when Greek society was declining  from the highest point of  its achievement, wealthy citizens could not do without doctors as they  led an increasingly unhealthy  life of pleasure and abundance. We find that the Museum of Alexandria encouraged much research in anatomy and physiology. HippoeT;ites of Cos is a legendary figure in Greek medicine. His works, probably written sometime  between 450 to 350 B.C., contain a clinical account of many diseases based on careful observations. Magical or religious causes or cures for diseases are not mentioned. However, the practice of medicine of  the original Hippocratic school was superseded by  the doctrine of four humours, firstly put'fonvard  by EmpedocIes, an Ionian philosopher (see Fig. 3.16). His ideas proved very damaging to the practice and theory of medicine. A great doctor of  those times, Herophihs (about 300 B.C.) based his work on observation and experiment. He was the first to understand the working of  the nerves, distinguish between  sensory and motor nerves, and make clinical use of  the pulse. Erasistratics  (about 280 B.C.) went further and noted the significance  of  the peculiar structure of  the human brain. Unfortunately, most of the fine work of  this period has been lost in  its original form. But the essence of  these findings was picked up and further developed by Galen (1 30-200 A.D.) who was born  in Asia Minor but practised in Rome. Galen became a great founder of Arabic and medieval medicine with authority as great as that of Aristotle. He dissected animals and gained much anatomical knowledge. Galenical physiology described  the ebbing and flowing of  spirits, and blood  in  arteries and nerves, with  the heart as the origin of heat, and the  lungs as cooling fans. It provided a comprehensive,  though rather unreal, view of human body. In terms of  providing explanation of  the phenomena, even Galen could not break out of  the old doctrine of three spirits and souls, a doctrine which blocked any substantial advance in man's knowledge of  his own body  for another 1500 years.

Posted Date: 9/27/2012 7:51:51 AM | Location : United States

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