Session: #164

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

The Archaeology of Medicine and Healing in Prehistoric and Protohistoric Europe
The medicinal and healing practices of prehistoric and protohistoric Europe have not been as thoroughly and systematically researched as the practice of medicine during Classical and Late Antiquity. The reconstruction of healing practices during this period depends almost exclusively on archaeological evidence, and concerns skeletal remains with indications of treatment, the existence of medical instruments, evidence for remedial residues and the use of therapeutic properties of plants, representations of body parts afflicted by an illness or pathology, and depictions of healers and healing practices. The identification of structures and places associated with the practice of curing, and evidence for the worship of deities believed to prevent and protect from, or heal illness, further enriches the reconstruction and understanding of medical practices in the past. Indeed, an interdisciplinary approach to the practice of medicine in the prehistoric period combining specializations such as bioarchaeology, palaeopathology, palaeodiet, archaeobotany, and organic residue analysis appears to be crucial for fully understanding the different aspects of medical practices. The aim of the session is to bring together researchers that examine medicine and healing from different angles in order to reconstruct prehistoric/protohistoric medicine. We welcome a wide spectrum of papers with a particular emphasis on methodology and the use of scientific techniques in the identification and analysis of medical practices, as well as case studies. Papers can address but are not limited to the following topics:
- Methodologies and techniques applied to the research of prehistoric medicine
- The evidence for the practice of medicine in prehistoric/protohistoric Europe
- The challenges in the recognition of prehistoric/protohistoric medicine in the archaeological record
- The preventive aspects of medicine and their identification in the archaeological record
- The social and spiritual aspects of healing
- Healers and practitioners
medicine, healing, prehistoric and protohistoric Europe, methodology and theory, palaeopathology
Session associated with MERC:
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Main organiser:
Tomas Alusik (Czech Republic) 1
Christina Aamodt (Greece) 2
1. Charles University, First Faculty of Medicine
2. Independent Researcher