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.

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  1. The Ancient Egyptians were admired for their hygiene. Which of the following practices was not used widely by them?
    Historians have been impressed by the high standard of Ancient Egyptian hygiene
  2. 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
  3. Where is the evidence to be found for Egyptian medical practice?
    The information is purely visual, and therefore hard to decipher
  4. In prehistoric times a form of treatment called trepanning was used. What did this involve?
    This is a mysterious procedure, about which we know only from human remains. But what its purpose was can only be guessed
  5. 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?
    It was thought that if an imbalance were to develop among the humours, then illness was not far away
  6. Julius Caesar issued a decree in 46 BC giving doctors a special status. What was this?
    Rome was keen to attract medics, and to keep them
  7. 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
  8. At Pergamum, Galen found plenty of wounds to attend to. How had these victims sustained their injuries?
    Galen thrived on wounds: he believed, for example, in pepper being sprayed on cold things and cucumber being used on hot things
  9. Alexandria, in Egypt, became a centre for medicine which attracted many Greek investigators. What was the main reason for its popularity?
    Alexandria was in Egypt, but it was also a window onto a wider world
  10. Galen was not allowed to dissect humans in Greece, so what animals did he use for this purpose?
    Galen maintained that the animals that he slaughtered were as good as humans - they had a very similar body structure

Author: Edward Towne

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