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The Body as Machine in Antiquity. Towards an Early History of Iatromechanics - 01/12/2017, Nicosia (

We are pleased to announce a one-day workshop on "The Body as Machine in Antiquity. Towards an Early History of Iatromechanics", which will take place at the University of Cyprus (Nicosia) on the 1st of December 2017.

The aim of this workshop is to explore the dialogue between the sciences of medicine and mechanics in classical antiquity. Iatromechanics (or iatrophysics) makes its appearance as a medical school of thought during the seventeenth century: by adopting mechanical principles in order to explain human physiology, its proponents advance the view that human life can be fully explained in terms of physics, and cures really only need to restore the proper functioning of the human machine by tightening or loosening or tinkering with the mechanism. Our aim is to examine the extent to which similar models of the human body can be traced in ancient medical texts (as was maintained, for the first time systematically, in the work of Friedrich Hoffmann, 1660-1742; cf. Lonie 1981), in association with the increased anatomical knowledge gained through dissection and in dialogue with scientific advancements in the field of mechanics – especially from the Hellenistic period onward. At the same time, we wish to discuss the adaptation of medical lore and discourse in mechanical texts, in contexts where engineers contrive and produce artifacts which, though extending beyond the natural world, are still conceived in analogy with the human body and its functions. By insisting on the desired life-like qualities of its technology, ancient mechanics invokes medicine in a way that essentially blurs the line between the natural and the artificial, by inviting us to view the operation of a well-crafted machine in light of the spontaneous automatisms that rule human life.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 01/12/2017

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Cyprus (Nicosia, Cyprus)




Se ruega enviar un email a /please contact /sono pregati di inviare una e-mail a Maria Gerolemou ( and George Kazantzidis (


10.00-10.15, Maria Gerolemou (Un. of Cyprus), Welcoming Chair: Demetris Portides (Un. of Cyprus) 10.15-11.00, Orly Lewis (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), The ‘Mechanics’ and Mechanisms of the Motion of Air in the Human Body 11.00-11.45, Matteo Valleriani (Max Planck Institute, Berlin), The Mechanics of the Heart 11.45-12.30, Giouli Korobili (Humboldt, Berlin), Aristotle’s use of the bellows-lungs analogy Break/Lunch Chair: Demokritos Kaltsas (Un. of Cyprus) 14.00-14.45, Marquis Berrey (Iowa), Reading Celsus in the Age of Enlightenment 14.45-15.30, Sean Coughlin (Humboldt, Berlin), Athenaeus and Galen on Aristotle’s metaphor of the automata 15.30-16.15, Ian Ruffell (Glasgow), Not Yet the Cyborg: the Limits of Wonder in Ancient Automata Break Chair: Dimitrios Michailidis (Un. of Cyprus) 16.45-17.30, Jane Draycott (Glasgow), Automata, Cyborgs, and Hybrids: Bodies and Machines in Antiquity 17.30-18.15, Kirsi Lorentz (The Cyprus Institute), Bioarchaeological Exploration of Iatromechanics 18.15-19.00, Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis (St Andrews), Simple machines in medicine and self-grooming in the Hellenistic and Roman periods: body boundaries and professionalism 19.00-19.15, George Kazantzidis (Patras), Concluding Remarks

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