Byzantine medicine

Byzantine Medicine

Byzantine medicine

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Byzantine medicine is the medicine practiced in the Byzantine Empire from about 400 AD to 1453 AD. Medicine was one of the sciences in which the Byzantines improved on their Greco-Roman predecessors. As a result, Byzantine Medicine had a significant influence on Islamic medicine and the Western rebirth of Medicine during the Renaissance.

Byzantine physicians often compiled and standardized medical knowledge into textbooks. These books tended to be elaborately decorated with many fine illustrations, highlighting the particular ailment. The Medical Compendium in Seven Books, written by the leading physician Paul of Aegina, is of particular importance. The compendium was written in the late seventh century and remained in use as a standard textbook for 800 years.

Late antiquity witnessed a revolution in the medical scene and many sources mention hospitals in passing (although their own history in the Military sense can be drawn back to Imperial Rome and beyond). Constantinople doubtless was the center of such activities in the Middle Ages, owing to its geographical position, wealth and accumulated knowledge.


Arguably the first Byzantine Physician was the author of the Vienna Dioscurides manuscript, created for the daughter of Emperor Olybrius around 515. Like most Byzantine physicians, he drew his material from ancient authorities such as Galen and Hippocrates, though this is not to say that Byzantine Physicians did not make corrections to the 'fathers of Medicine'...
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