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Abstract

MESOPOTAMIA, THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION AND MEDICINE

Nasser Pouyan*

ABSTRACT

Mesopotamia in Southwest Asia, tilled for over ten thousand years has been called the Cradle of Civilization. Man from this fertile land attempted to develop a system of writing and here the first cities of world were built. In the course of the fourth millennium BC, the most prominent of the city- states, Sumer gave its language to the area and became the first great civilization of mankind. This very Sumerian records report of euphoric effect of the poppy plant in about 4000 years BC. The next leading civilization was centered on Babylon, and the most famous king of the Old Babylonian dynasty was Hammurabi (reigned 1728-1686 BC) who established a set of laws called the Code which have Seventeen laws related to medicine including rewarding or punishing physicians for the outcome of their treatments. The second tablet of a medical treatise called “if a man has cough.” which comes from Nineveh and dates about 700 BC, details several stomach disorders and recommends various medical remedies. Although the origins of medicine are in the mists of time, archaeological evidences reveal that in ancient Mesopotamia complex medicine was practiced, intertwined with religion and magic. In fact, three were there principal evil gods who were responsible for disease: the demon of phthisis, the demon of diseases of the liver, and the demon of abortion and infant death. Treatment was largely through prayer and incantation. Mesopotamian (the Sumerian, Amorites, Babylonians, and Assyrians) carried out surgery, washed and bandaged wounds and used hundreds of remedies ranging from prunes to lizard droppings. Their specific remedies were linked to certain diseases, and medicine was combined with chants and spells.

Keywords: Mesopotamia, Medicine, Babylonia, and Assyria.


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