Wednesday 28 October 2015

Sickness and Health

The desire to stay alive and healthy is a basic human instinct. It is no wonder, then, that people in early civilizations attempted to explain the origins of disease - and intervened to soothe pain, encourage healing, and effect cures.Some of these traditional approaches are still in use today.

The earliest known surgery is dated back to 40,000 BC was trepanning, drilling the hole in the skull to reveal disease causing spirits.

Some tools in Neolithic period were used in preemptive attempts at surgery. Flint tipped dental drills that were found in modern day Pakistan dates as back as 7,000 BC were used to remove rotten dental issues.

In Mesopotamia a willow bark extract was used to relieve headaches and reduce fever. That extract is salicyclic acid, the main ingredient in aspirin.
Medicinal herbs

Sushruta, was the man behind Ayurveda whose 6th century BC work Sushruta Samhita describe 100 surgical instruments and 300 procedures. He is often referred to as father of surgery.

The Olmec in Central America had areas of their gardens set aside for growing medicinal herbs.

Acupuncture - It aims to restore health and well being and to relive pain. Still one of the mainstays of Traditional Chinese Medicine, It was probably developed in Han China around 200 CE. it involves insertion of thin needles into the body at acupuncture points.

Theory Of Humors -  According to this theory human body was composed of four humors : Blood, Phlegm, Black bile and Yellow bile and illness was the result of an imbalance between them.

The Ebers Papyrus written in Egypt in 2nd Century BC contains long list of incantations designed to turn away evil spirits.

Ancient Rome is celebrated for it's initiative for public health. Their water supplies, heating systems , sewage and public baths were well ahead of their time.

During the 1st millennium BC  medicine became more systematic, but supernatural explanations and non-scientific folk remedies prevailed until after the scientific revolution of the 18th century.

Monday 12 October 2015

Precious Metal

Humans had made tools out of stone, bone and wood for thousands of years. The advent of copper working around 8,000 years ago was the beginning of the long association with metals, and a significant watershed in human history, which led to even further innovation.

Metal working started in Anatolia and Mesopotamia(modern day Turkey and Iran) in around 5000 BC and spread westward and northward reaching Northern Europe by 2000 BC.

Copper Smelting discovery is believed to have been made at some point before 5000 BC when by accident copper ore was being dropped into hearth and reacted with hot embers.

Model of copper smelting installation

Copper metallurgy developed in Italy and Spain by 3,5000 BC and in Britain in 2000 BC.

The first Copper Tin alloy - Bronze, was produced around 2,000 BC.

Bronze Age - A period defined by the use of bronze as most important material for making tools and weapons. It was from 3,000 BC to 1,200 BC in Middle East.

Iron Age - A period defined by the use of Iron as most important material for making tools and weapons. It was introduced from 1,200 BC and eventually became more useful than Bronze.

Steel an alloy of Aluminium and Carbon came into limited use as early as 500 BC.

At the beginning of the Bronze Age around 3,000 BC civilizations such as Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt and Indus valley were well established.

Friday 2 October 2015

First Harvest

Everyone in the world lived by hunting and gathering 12,000 years ago. But only 6,000 years later every human society with the ability to farm and herd animals produced its own food.

Neolithic Period -  The last part of the stone age period beginning from 10,000 BC in Middle East, 5,500 BC in Central America and 4,500 BC in North America. The key characteristic of this period is the introduction of farming.

Neolithic Farming

As they were constantly on the move, not living in large groups, hunters and gatherers suffered rarely from infectious disease. Life expectancy was low due to physical danger.

There was a change in diet, with less variety and a single crop often wheat. Repetitive task such as grinding wheat for flour caused excessive wear to some people's joints causing Arthritis.

More food cooking for babies meant less dependent on their mother's milk caused new conditions such as amnesia and scurvy.

Farming spread to

  •    Middle East - By 10,000 BC
  •    South East Asia - By 8,500 BC
  •    India - By 6,000 BC
  •    Central America - By 5,000 BC
  •    Europe - By 5,300 BC
  •    Asia - By 4,500 BC
  •    North America - By 2,500 BC
  •    Central Africa - By 2,000 BC

The diets of people were low in fiber and higher in fat and salt than their hunter predecessor. There is evidence that this lead to an increase in conditions such as high blood pressure and cancer - a trend that continues even today. 
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