Medicine

History of medicine; healing; herbalism

3D scanning used to study medieval teeth

Researchers from around the world may benefit from a study of the molars of 22 individuals unearthed during excavation of Periplatz cemetery in Berlin. The remains, dating from between 1200 to c.1600 CE, were analyzed using "3D printing technology to complement strontium isotope analysis in order to better understand the ancient residents of Berlin."

What medieval Venice can teach about controlling Ebola

Experts on disease control, working with the Ebola outbreak in Africa, are looking back to medieval Venice to understand how to contain the disease. Dr. Igor Linkov of the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center believes the key is resilience management, "managing physical movement, social interactions, and data collection."

Plague burial discovered in Barcelona

Spain in the 14th century was one of the countries hardest hit by the Black Plague, yet no burial of plague victims had been discovered, until now. Recently archaeologists working on the Basilica of Sant Just i Pastor in Barcelona unearthed a burial of 120 bodies "packed like sardines" under the sacristy.

What killed Richard III?

A new report, published in The Lancet, reveals that King Richard III was "probably killed by two blows to the head during a 'sustained attack'" when he perished August 22, 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth. (photos)

Medieval Italian died of brucellosis, say scientists

DNA testing has revealed that a man, whose skeleton was found in the ruins of a Medieval Italian village, died of an infection called brucellosis usually acquired by ingesting unpasteurized dairy products. The report, by Warwick Medical School's Professor Mark Pallen and his colleagues, was published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

TED Talk: The Black Death

In a TED Talk video, Sharon N. DeWitte looks at the bubonic plague, which devastated Europe in the 14th century.

Volunteers help find site of 13th century hospital

For three years, archaeologists have been looking for signs of a medieval hospital in Northumberland Park in Tyneside, England. 80 medieval burials have been found, and, in the last few days of the dig, a floor of glazed tiles, probably from the hospital's chapel. (photos)

Earliest case of Down syndrome diagnosed in French skeleton

A team of archaeologists at the University of Bordeaux has identified the earliest known case of Down syndrome in the remains of a child who lived in 6th century France. The diagnosis was made after the remains were submitted to a (CT) scan.

Richard's spine shows evidence of scoliosis

Readers of Shakespeare's Richard III know that the medieval king was a hunchback, but a new study of the king's remains shows that Richard actually suffered from scoliosis.

Black plague: Survival of the fittest

A new study by University of South Carolina anthropologist Sharon DeWitte shows that those who survived Europe's 14th century Black Plague "lived significantly longer and were healthier than people who lived before the epidemic struck in 1347."

Learning from the teeth of the dead

"It's fantastic we can look in such detail at an individual who died 600 years ago," said Don Walker, an osteologist with the Museum of London about his recent work on remains found last year under London's Charterhouse Square. A study of the teeth has revealed that at least 12 of the skeletons died in the 14th century of the Black Death. (photos)

Construction workers uncover mass grave at the Uffizi

Construction workers at the site of a new elevator for Florence, Italy's famous Uffizi gallery were surprised to find not the usual Roman artifacts, but a mass grave that might contain over a thousand bodies.

Illuminated almanac: 15th century iPad?

The Wellcome Library has acquired a rare medical almanac, a "combined calendar, astrological chart and medical textbook," that compacts into a small, folded strip, for UK£100,000 from the Edith Sitwell collection. The illuminated alamnac is believed to have been produced in an English workshop in the early 15th century. (photo)

Don't drink the water?

Hey, everyone knows that medieval people drank beer because they couldn't drink the water, right? "Wrong," says blogger chezjim on Les Leftovers.

Altopascio skeletons show history of disease in Europe

For several years, biological anthropologist Giuseppe Vercellotti of The Ohio State University has led a field school in the Badia Pozzeveri Churchyard in Altopascio, Italy, where he and his students unearth and study the skeletons hoping "to read the history written in the bones." Of particular interest was a mass grave covered with a layer of lime. (photos)

Galen: Prince of Medicine book reviewed

The online site for History Today recently featured a book review by Andrew Robinson for The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire by Susan P. Mattern.

Soil samples help analysize death of Danish child

Analysis of soil samples has revealed the suffering of a 13th century Danish child in the days before his death, according to chemist Kaare Lund Rasmussen from University of Southern Denmark. The 10-13 year-old child from Ribe had been treated with mercury, causing great suffering.

Crusader hospital identified in the heart of Jerusalem

For centuries, a huge, 150,000 square feet building in the heart of Jerusalen was used as a fruit and vegetable market. Now the deserted site has been identified as the largest hospital in the Middle East during the Crusader period.

Earl of Sandwich risked health with frozen chocolate delight

In 1668, the Earl of Sandwich collected recipes for chocolate, a treat just introduced to England believed to be "unwholesome." His iced chocolate recipes are a highlight of a paper by Dr Kate Loveman of the University of Leicester entitled The Introduction of Chocolate into England: Retailers, Researchers, and Consumers, 1640–1730.

Scientists reconstruct leprosy genome medieval strains

Lepers are a common image in medieval histories, but by the end of the 16th century, the disease appeares to have mostly died out in Europe. Now a team of biologists and archeologists have reconstructed the genomes of medieval strains of the pathogen responsible for the disease to find out why.

Medicine: From Galen to Saturday Night Live

In an article for the website Inside Higher Ed, Scott McLemee looks at the contributions of Roman physician Galen, upon whose work most medieval medicine was based. The writer begins his story with a look at Steve Martin's portrayal of medieval doctor Theodoric of York on Saturday Night Live. (video)

Richard III Had Worms?

Ignominiously buried, scientists now believe that Richard III suffered from roundworms, an intestinal parasite.

Amnesiac mystery solved by Swedish SCA

In February 2013, a 61-year-old man woke up in a Palm Springs, California hospital, speaking Swedish and claiming his name was Johan Ek. Diagnosed with Transient Global Amnesia and identified by his ID as an American, Michael Boatwright mystified doctors until the Society for Creative Anachronism became involved. (photos)

Crusader poo subject of Cambridge research

A team of researchers from Cambridge University is the latest group to occupy Cyprus. This time the "invaders" are researchers, only interested in one castle, Saranda Kolones, built during the Third Crusade, and its latest treasure: a pit of dried human waste. Their report has been published in the International Journal of Paleopathology.

Medici Family Afflicted by Rickets

Exhumed skeletons of the family members of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany show distinctive signs of rickets, some from early birth.

Scientists find that same bacterium caused Justinianic plague and Black Plague

In 2011, DNA evidence confirmed that the infamous Black Plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century was, as had been suspected for many years, caused by the Yersinia Pestis bacterium. Now a team of scientists have used skeletal microbiology and DNA testing to show that a 6th through 8th century pandemic was caused by the same bacterium.

Exhibit showcases West's debt to Islamic doctors

In a new exhibit, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in London will showcase the work of early Islamic physicians. The mirror of health: discovering medicine in the golden age of Islam will be on display at the college's museum from 1 May to 25 October 2013.

Scholars test medieval recipes

Graduate students at Durham University in England were in for a real medieval treat when they participated in a cookery workshop using recipes from a recently discovered 12th century Durham Priory manuscript, considered to predate the earliest known examples by 150 years. The Latin manuscript was created in the 12th century at Durham Cathedral’s priory.

Plague burial discovered in London construction project

In the 14th century, Charterhouse Square in London was no-man's land, making it an excellent place to bury victims of the Black Plague. Now the site is the focus of archaeological investigations after being unearthed during construction of the city's Crossrail project. (video)

Scoliosis and its medieval cure

The discovery of the remains of King Richard III of England has led to the discussion of the king's scoliosis, "a lateral or side-to-side curvature of the spine," easily seen in the skeleton, and the techniques that would have been available to "cure" it.