Lands of cures and explorations

An Exploration of the Development and Evolution of Medicine

The Beginning of It All

Many papyri (a paper like substance used to write in Egypt) have been found in Egypt during archaeological excavations that gave us ideas of the practices and procedures they once practiced. Some of their beliefs were based on old myths and legends, while also being based on the growing knowledge of the human body and plain common sense. Of course, much of their knowledge of the body was most likely based around what they discovered when embalming bodies. There's even evidence that there were men with the title of physician at the time!

Greece, Oh Greece

Greece is home to many well-known advancers of medical knowledge, with doctors such as Hippocrates and Herophilus. Illiad (written by Homer) alone shows evidence of doctors treating fallen soldiers and leaders. Greek doctors started to use reasoning and observation to look at the sick and diseased- something new to the scene of medicine. This however, does not mean everyone went to physicians when sick. Some went to asclepeias, which were practically hospitals where people went to sleep, meditate, and bathe. They were actually encouraged to sleep, due to the belief that the God Asclepios would appear with his two daughters. Not very much of an advancement, I know.

But Hippocrates alone made a tremendous impression on medical history! Aristotle and Plato wrote of him! He wrote some of the Hippocratic Collection, a collection of sixty medical books. In these books, he wrote of how doctors should observe a man's face first and foremost, as ""First of all the doctor should look at the patient’s face. If he looks his usual self this is a good sign. If not, however, the following are bad signs – sharp nose, hollow eyes, cold ears, dry skin on the forehead, strange face colour such as green, black, red or lead coloured. If the face is like this at the beginning of the illness, the doctor must ask the patient if he has lost sleep, or had diarrhoea, or not eaten."

From "On forecasting diseases".

In fact, he and other doctors worked on the assumption that diseases were naturally caused, instead of supernaturally; and his ideas of this and many others spread to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Rome, Student of Greece

Romans, having conquered Greece, adopted their ideals- although they did not simply copy them; the ideas themselves were seen as impractical. While they did not directly contribute to the advancement of medicine, they certainly led to improved health and practices They not only believed that illness was natural, but they also believed it could be caused by bad water and sewage. They wanted to improve public health- and did, for everyone, even if you weren't a patrician!

They drained marshes to get rid of disease bearing mosquitoes and built cities/forts near springs so as to be near clean water. As cities grew, they built aqueducts to supply these large clusters with more clean water. They also used public baths and had public toilets- a great insight in the idea of good hygiene leading to good health.

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The Middle Ages

After the fall of the Roman Empire, medical advances were practically stagnated. While those interested were now able to go to a University to dissect bodies and learn more of medicine in general.

New practices were made, such as blood letting, or getting rid of 'excess' blood with a leech or a small cut. Diagnosis was also now linked to the astrology signs- for example, if you were a Leo, incisions of the nerves were to be avoided, along with not cutting the back by opening or bleeding! Of course, any remedies were still crude, primitive, and ineffective.

Plagues, Oh My!

There were many plagues throughout the middle ages and on, such as the well known Black Plague of Europe that killed off 1/3 of the population. There was also a London outbreak of smallpox in 1844, with a total of 10,316 deaths that year due to smallpox.

WWII and Meds

During WWII, new treatments were coming out to treat things ranging from sore throats, pneumonia, to even gonorrhea. During this time, penicillin had been modified, and now the chance of a wound on the battlefield had decreased. An immunization for tetanus had been found. Chemical warfare was also something that was looked into. New drugs were found to help cope with a gas attack, although gas masks were stilled most used.

After the Wars

After WWII, medicine continued advancing. Changes in the management of pregnancy and childbirth were made, including the ability to induce labor. More vaccines were made , such as ones battling polio, measles, and rubella. DNA was discovered by Wilkins, Crick, and Watson at this time. Since 1945, steroids were being used more and more in medicine. Ultrasound and dialysis were now being used, along with heart-lung machines, and lasers. AIDS and HIV were soon discovered and infected the world. There were massive steps in cancer treatment. New diseases had been discovered. Since 1945, medicine had taken a giant leap.

Discovers, Researchers, and Doctors Throughout History

Claudius Galen

  • He helped revive Hippocrates'/Greek doctors practices/methods in Rome
  • He accepted the view that disease was a result of an imbalance of phlegm, blood, yellow and blood bile.
  • Extended his knowledge of anatomy by dissecting pigs and apes.


  • He is seen as the Father of Pathology
  • He studied the differences between a healthy body and unhealthy body anatomy-wise and linked the abnormalities observed in the bodies to symptoms
  • He studied the impact of stroke, blood clots, and syphilis
  • His work 'De Sedibus et Causis Morburum Per Anatomen' is credited with pushing the boundaries so that anatomical pathology became a recognised science


  • Discovered the flow of blood must be continuous and in one direction only.

Antoine Lavoisier

  • Discovered respiration is the process of taking oxygen up by blood into the lungs.


  • created the vaccine for smallpox.


  • Drastically improved sanitation between physicians
  • (made them wash their hands with a solution).
  • Joseph Lister made similar accomplishments

Louis Pasteur

  • Showed that airborn microbes were the cause of disease.
  • Helped to develop a variety of vaccines.

Many many more doctors/scientists

There are honestly too many pioneers/explorers in the field for me to put into one flyer, so I honestly have to just list some of them by now.

  • Robert Koch (destroyed the bad air myth and investigated TB and anthrax)
  • Marie Curie (research in radiation)
  • Wilhelm Roentgen (discovered what are now called X-rays)
  • Alexander Fleming (discovered penicillin/antibiotics)
  • Christian Barnard (performed the first open heart transplant)

A short video showing a brief explanation of medicine's history