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Medical Machines in Antiquity - 19-20/05/2017, Glasgow (Scotland)


The technological capabilities and mechanical achievements of the Greeks and Romans have been the subject of considerable scholarly interest in recent years. Consequently, multi and interdisciplinary collaborative research projects have not only investigated the archaeological remains of devices, such as the Antikythera Mechanism, but also utilised the instructions provided in treatises, such as Hero of Alexandria’s On Automata, to undertake experimental archaeological reconstructions of those for which the remains do not survive and develop working prototypes. The role of machines in ancient medicine, however, has been much less scrutinised. To date, the lion’s share of scholarly attention has focused on medical and surgical instruments rather than medical and surgical machinery. While some mechanical and pneumatic devices such as drills, dilators and syringes - examples of which survive in the archaeological record - have been carefully considered, other more complicated contraptions attested only in literature have been overlooked. Yet medical treatises dating back to the fifth century BCE describe a variety of machinery including, but not limited to, benches, ladders, racks, and chests that assist with the treatment of dislocations and fractures. Despite renewed interest in ancient science and technology, the use of machines in medicine in ancient Greece and Rome remains an understudied area, and it is past time for a reassessment. This two-day workshop will offer an opportunity to reassess the evidence for the use of machines in medicine in ancient Greece and Rome.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 19-20/05/2017

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Glasgow (Glasgow, Scotland)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Dr. Jane Draycott (University of Glasgow)



Se ruega enviar un email a /please contact /sono pregati di inviare una e-mail a Dr Jane Draycott (


Friday 19th May 2017 12-1 pm Buffet Lunch 1-2.30 pm Panel 1: Therapy · Elizabeth Craik, University of St Andrews: ‘Hippocratic Surgical Strategies’ · Maria Gerolemou, University of Cyprus: ‘Hippocratic Bone Machines’ 2.30-3 pm Tea and Coffee break 3-5 pm Panel 2: Ladders · Laurence Totelin, Cardiff University: ‘Climbing up the Ladder: the Ladder as Medical Machine in Graeco-Roman Antiquity’ · Georgia Petridou, University of Liverpool: ‘Between Medicine, Rhetoric and Religion: The Hippocratic Ladder in Aelius Aristides’ Hieroi Logoi’ 7.30 pm Conference Dinner Saturday 20th May 2017 9-10.30 am Panel 3: Prostheses · Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis, University of Oxford: ‘Extending Legs in Classical Greece’ · Jane Draycott, University of Glasgow: ‘Medical Machines, Aids and Prostheses’ 10.30-11 am Tea and Coffee break 11-12.30 pm Panel 4: Apparatus · Mathias Witt, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin/LMU München: ‘Hellenistic Organike and Organikoi’ · Ian Ruffell, University of Glasgow: ‘Medical Machines in the History of Ancient Mechanics’. 12.30-1 pm Final Discussion 1-2 pm Buffet Lunch

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