UNUSUAL SCIENCE, BELIEFS,
AND PRACTICES IN THE PAST
- Trepanation – drilling holes in the skull to cure various ailments; some believed to release evil spirits. Perhaps the oldest surgery in history, dating back to 6500 BC.
|The Extraction of the Stone of Madness|
-Hieronymus Bosch painting
- Sickness – ancient Egyptians considered it a punishment sent by the gods; or an attack by angered ghost or demon.
- Mercury for health – ancient Persians, Greeks and Chinese used it for health, as a common elixir and topical medicine; death from liver and kidney damage was common when ingested.
- Bloodletting – withdrawal of blood to cure or prevent disease. A practice dating back to Egypt 1000 BC.
a physician (iatros) bleeding a patient
- Animal Dung Ointments – all types of dung, a cure-all for disease and injury. Ancient Egyptians swore by it. Might have had some antibiotic benefit.
- Cannibal Cures – “corpse medicine” from ground-up mummies, human flesh, blood, or bone and believed to be magical. Practiced by Romans and the English. Thought to cure headaches, ulcers, epilepsy, etc. Practice lasted for years.
- Wandering Womb – ancient Greeks believed the womb was a separate creature. Had a mind of its own and could escape from the body and have a ‘walk-a-bout’. Women were told to marry young and bear lots of children to prevent.
- Hernia cures for infants – have one small green lizard bite the child! Then hang the lizard up over smoke until it dies.
- Infant’s first words – If the baby says “ny” it will live. If the baby says “mebi” it will die. Belief dates back to 1550 BC.