Medicine and sickness-rate in pre-Hippocratic Greece

In his part-time PhD-study at the Institute for History of Medicine and Foreign Languages, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University of Prague, Tomas Alusik is dealing with the research on the level of medicine in the Greek world before 500 BC, i.e. before the birth of the “father of European medicine”, Hippocrates of Kos (c. 460-370 BC), and before the creation of the new concept of approach to the medicine, patient and remedies. The major part of the period in question covers the prehistory (Neolithic and Bronze Age). For this reason, the main attention is given to the archaeological sources, the most important of which is the human skeletal material. When analysed by special methods, the human bones can give us a lot of valuable information on the injuries, diseases, main source of nourishment etc. of the analysed population. Less attention is given to the written (especially the clay tablets written with the sc. Linear B script, c. 2nd half of the 2nd mill. BC, and Homeric epic) and iconographical sources (representations in vase painting of the 8th – 6th centuries BC). On the basis of the analyses of all the above-mentioned archaeological sources it will be possible to discern not only the level of medical knowledge and skills, but also of the sickness-rate and population health-state of the period in question.


The intermediate results of the project are one conference presentation (“War Injuries” conference; First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University of Prague, 5th March 2011) and three papers:

Alusik, T., 2014: The Warfare of the Prehistoric Aegean from the Point of View of Injuries (On the Basis of Archaeological, Literary and Iconographical Sources). In: Smrčka, V. – Mádlová, V. (eds.): War Injuries from Past to Present. Proceedings of the Symposium “War Injuries from Past to Present”, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University of Prague, 5th March 2011. Acta Universitatis Carolinae Medica Monographia CLIX, Praha, s. 45-59.

Alusik, T., in press (2015): Skull Trepanations in Bronze Age Greece: An Archaeologist’s View. World Neurosurgery (2015), doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2015.02.010. [IF 2.417]

Alusik, T. – Alusik, S., in press (2015): Dna a její výskyt, popisy a léčení ve starověku (Gout and its appearance, descriptions and tratment in the antiquity). Časopis lékařů českých (Journal of Czech Physicians) 2015.