doctors, Galen, museums and collections

The dangers of libraries…

Galen was, to put it politely, a bit of a show-off. Since our main source for Galen is Galen himself, this can make it difficult to work out whether he was as great a physician as he makes out. I think the answer has to be that he was; his second-century AD career, started among… Continue reading The dangers of libraries…

diseases, doctors, food, Galen, Hippocrates, menstruation, remedies

Humoral medicine: a beginner’s guide

How do we know what's wrong with our bodies? We may be aware of symptoms – of pains, twinges, immobility. We can also aware of some of our bodily fluids: our saliva, sweat, urine, menses or semen. Sometimes a fluid which is clearly abnormal emerges from an orifice or a wound. If we seek medical treatment, our blood… Continue reading Humoral medicine: a beginner’s guide

death, food, Galen, remedies

Death in Vienna and the City of Salt

I've mentioned in a previous post my time working in Vienna. When I was there, I became fascinated by the cemeteries: in particular, the Zentralfriedhof, which is so big that there are three tram stops along its perimeter and a special shuttle bus to get around inside, as it takes so long to walk from one end… Continue reading Death in Vienna and the City of Salt

Galen, midwives, museums and collections

Medical instruments as bling?

If you freeze at the sight of a medical instrument... .. you are not alone! Historically, physicians have tried various methods to reduce the fear induced in the patient by seeing what is coming their way. For women, possibly the most scary of all is the obstetrics forceps; if there was ever an instrument to strike terror… Continue reading Medical instruments as bling?

death, dissection, Galen, Hippocrates, museums and collections

Theatres of Anatomy

Every other year, I lead a tour group which visits two historic anatomy theatres: the oldest permanent structure, the Padua anatomy theatre of 1594, and the 1638-39 one in Bologna. Before 1594, anatomy theatres were temporary structures, in some cases erected at the expense of the professor performing the dissection. On the tour, we usually… Continue reading Theatres of Anatomy