Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cuneiform script of medicine in Mesopotamia

Ancient Mesopotamians developed a written language called cuneiform. By about 2000 BC the Mesopotamians cuneiform system of writing was used throughout the Near East and particularly in Canaan, where rules were using it in their corresponding even with the pharaohs of Egypt.

Sumer flourished some 4000-5000 years ago, but the first century AD its language had vanished and its writings, in the form of cuneiform script inscribed in clay tablets were indecipherable.

Of the well over one hundred thousand cuneiform tablets that have been discovered, about eight hundred deal with medicine. The earliest medical text dates from the third dynasty of Ur (c. 2100 BC) and is written in Sumerian cuneiform. It contains instructions for treating skin problems in patients, but not diagnoses.

The cuneiform texts pertaining to medicine can be divided into three categories:
*Therapeutic or ‘medical texts’
*Omen collections or ‘symptom texts’
*Miscellaneous texts which incidentally provide information on diseases and medical practices

After deciphering cuneiform writings and studying numerous texts, scholars divided the medical traditions of Sumer into two categories, which have been called the ‘scientific’ and the ‘practical’ school.

The medical tables mention diseases of the liver, the eye, respiratory disease, fever and gonorrhea. A catheter was used in the treatment of urinary tract diseases.
Cuneiform script of medicine in Mesopotamia

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