Sunday, May 06, 2018

Ancient medicine: needles and hooks and knives, oh my

Needles with eyes for sewing goes back quite a long time

Apparelscience notes:

The needle is the distinctive tool of the Upper Paleolithic period that began about 40,000 years ago.
The oldest known needles with eyes date from the Gravettian period, about 25,000 years ago... Paleolithic needles made of animal bones, antlers, and tusks helped make possible the extension of human settlement into cooler regions after the Ice Age (until about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago), and they also were used for fashioning fishing nets and carrying bags.
There is evidence that by the Gravettian, needles were used not only to stitch hides together for warmth but also for sewing and decorating textiles for social and erotic display.
The needle was associated thus closely with humanity's new conceptual skills and expressions, including fashion itself

Surgical tool also included knives, drills, saws, hooks, scalpels, retractors forceps and pinchers, scales, spoons and a vase with burning incense. The knives used had stone blades. Flint or obsidian has edges sharper than modern surgical steel. When metal instruments were used, the act of cauterizing accompanied it. In some procedures, the blade was heated until it glowed red, and then used to make incisions. It cut well as it sealed up the blood vessels limiting the bleeding. Copper had been used for making instruments until 700 B.C.E. when the iron period started. Copper needles were used for clothing and for suturing the abdomen in mummification process

  this temple dates from only 180 BC but I suspect that the instruments date much further back then that time.

this article has discusses surgical instruments used in ancient Rome: actually found in Pompeii, and has a lot of photos and descriptions on how they were used.

A lot of these instruments are similar to those we use today.

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