Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Battle of Karbala, 680

Karbala, an event not often included in European/American histories, is one of the defining moments for Islamic history.    The year was 680. The newly-conquered Muslim lands had gone through four Caliphs in rapid succession, following Mohammed’s death in 632. … Continue reading

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Cosmetic, elective and women’s surgery

Elective surgery was only a concept in the Greek tradition that Northern Europe didn’t learn until the late medieval, when textbook education about surgery spread north from Bologna. I’m still not sure if the Greek world had been using opium … Continue reading

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Paul of Aegina: basic Greek surgery

We think of a surgical patient as passive, lying down, unconscious. In medieval surgery, the patient was a participant in that he was certainly conscious, and therefore he could help out by putting his (or her) body in various useful … Continue reading

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Greek medicine’s pathway into Europe

The Big Story of Europe’s medieval period is something like, “How the rude northern tribes took over for Rome and then gradually learned to adapt to and surpass Rome’s standards of civilization.” You see this same shape in every topic: … Continue reading

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Surgery in early medieval Northern Europe

The medieval candidate for surgery could be described with four Ms: Male, military, moneyed, and mangled. Most surgery developed around the war games that gradually grew more rule-bound and civilized but never ceased to be nearly as deadly as real … Continue reading

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Theriac, the uber-medicine

Theriac was more of a concept than a single recipe. It was a cure-what-ails-you brew with multiple ideas of remedies. Its focus was on counteracting poison, but “poison” was as loose an idea as “toxin” is in alternative medicine today. … Continue reading

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