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Ancient Mesopotamia
Medicine in Mesopotamia



Medicine in Mesopotamia
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     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.76

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    ashipu, ashipus, asus, liable, likewise, sorcerer, herbal, critical, repay, solely, civilization, healers, present-day, shocking, account, better


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Medicine in Mesopotamia
By Vickie Chao
  

1     In Greek, Mesopotamia (pronounced "mes-uh-puh-TAY-mee-uh") meant "the land between the rivers." Nestled between the Tigris and the Euphrates, this stretch of land was home to the world's oldest culture. (The bulk of it was in present-day Iraq.) As a matter of fact, because of its ancient status, Mesopotamia was often called the cradle of civilization.
 
2     People began to move into Mesopotamia more than 9,000 years ago. Since very early on, they had shown a great interest in medicine. They wanted to know why people got sick. They wanted to know how to make them better. They did a lot of research on this matter. And they kept a detailed account of their findings.
 
3     Thanks to their excellent records, we know that there were two types of healers in Mesopotamia. The first was called ashipus. An ashipu was like a sorcerer or a witch doctor. He saw patients and determined the causes of their ailments. Back in those days, people believed that evil spirits made people sick. To recover, they had to please the gods they had upset earlier. And that was when an ashipu came into play. When a man fell ill, an ashipu would pay him a visit. He would tell the man which god was angry with him. He would tell the man what he had to do to make amends. For example, the man might need to say a certain prayer or chant to drive out the evil spirit. He might need to sacrifice an animal. Or he might need to perform some magic rituals. Sometimes, when necessary, an ashipu would refer his patient to see the second kind of healer called asus. An asu was a specialist in herbal remedies. He wrote prescriptions to cure diseases. Occasionally, he would perform surgeries, too. Shocking as it may be, people in Mesopotamia were already advanced enough to perform eye or even brain surgery.

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