Medicine in the Ancient World

The God Asklepios

Sarah Yeomans, who is the Biblical Archaeological Society’s Managing Web Editor, has written a very interesting article on “Medicine in the Ancient World.” Yeomans, who is also an archaeologist and historian, wrote the article for the Biblical Archaeological Review’s e-feature section of the magazine.

The following is an excerpt from the article:

In many societies, the gods played an integral role in human health. In the Greek world, the god Asklepios was dedicated exclusively to healing. Sanctuaries called Asklepions drew the ill and injured, who would often travel for days to seek the healing that they believed these ancient sanitariums could provide. Similar in some ways to the modern spa, Asklepions provided baths, healthy foods and sanctuary rooms intended specifically for sleep and meditation. Most Asklepions were located in remote and beautiful areas, such as the famous sanctuaries of Epidauros in Greece and Pergamum in northwest Turkey. Animal sacrifices and votive offerings were made at altars and temples to the god. Excavations at Asklepions have uncovered “anatomical votives,” so named because they represent the body part that was injured or affected by illness.

The article is illustrated with several pictures. Read the article by visiting BAR’s e-feature section by clicking here.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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