Systems of Classification in Premodern Medical Cultures puts historical disease concepts in cross-cultural perspective, investigating perceptions, constructions and experiences of health and illness from antiquity to the seventeenth century.
Focusing on the systematisation and classification of illness in its multiple forms, manifestations and causes, this volume examines case studies ranging from popular concepts of illness through to specialist discourses on it. Using philological, historical and anthropological approaches, the contributions cover perspectives across time from East Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures, spanning ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome to Tibet and China. They aim to capture the multiplicity of disease concepts and medical traditions within specific societies, and to investigate the historical dynamics of stability and change linked to such concepts.
Providing useful material for comparative research, the volume is a key resource for researchers studying the cultural conceptualisation of illness, including anthropologists, historians and classicists, among others.
Table of Contents
List of figures
List of tables
List of contributors
List of abbreviations
Introduction: sickness, cultural classifications and local epistemologies
ULRIKE STEINERT (IN CONSULTATION WITH ELISABETH HSU)
PART I Disease concepts and healing: new approaches to knowledge and practice in premodern medical texts and traditions
1 Distinctive issues in the history of medicine in antiquity
GEOFFREY E. R. LLOYD
2 How to read a recipe? Working backwards from the prescription to the complaint
3 Experiencing the dead in ancient Egyptian healing texts
PART II Disease classifications in premodern medical texts and traditions from the Near East, Mediterranean and East Asia
4 Types of diagnoses in Papyrus Ebers and Smith
5 Ancient Egyptian prescriptions for the back and abdomen and their Mesopotamian and Mediterranean counterparts
6 Disease concepts and classifications in ancient Mesopotamian medicine
7 Classification of illnesses in the Hippocratic Corpus
8 The delicacy of the rabbinic asthenes: sickness, weakness or self-indulgence?
9 The Paradise of Wisdom: streams of tradition in the first medical encyclopaedia in Arabic
10 The Tree of Nosology in Tibetan medicine
PART III Mental illness in ancient medical systems
11 Disturbing disorders: reconsidering the problem of ‘mental diseases’ in ancient Mesopotamia
M. ERICA COUTO-FERREIRA
12 Classification, explanation and experience: mental disorder in Graeco-Roman antiquity
PETER N. SINGER
Appendix 1: the ‘Five Twig Powder’ and four of its variants
Appendix 2: composition of the polypharmacies
Ulrike Steinert is a postdoctoral researcher in the Research Training Group 1876 ‘Early Concepts of Humans and Nature’ at Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany. Her research and publications focus on the history of Mesopotamian medicine and culture, the Akkadian language, women’s health, gender and body concepts. She is the author of a study on the body, self and identity in Mesopotamian texts, entitled Aspekte des Menschseins im Alten Mesopotamien. Eine Studie zu Person und Identität im 2. und 1. Jt. v. Chr. (2012) and is currently preparing a monograph on Women’s Health Care in Ancient Mesopotamia: An Edition of the Textual Sources.