- The Loom
The Dawn of Medicine, Plus or Minus a Couple Million Years
I was puzzled by an article in today’s New York Times called “Researchers rewrite first chapter for the history of medicine.” William Honan, the reporter, announced that “an art historian and a medical researcher say they have pushed back by hundreds of years the earliest use of a medicinal plant.” Until now, he wrote, the oldest evidence dated back to 1000 BC, but now researchers had discovered a picture 3500 years old showing a Greek goddess overseeing crocus flowers being made into medicines.
This painting will certainly tell historians a lot about medicine in ancient Greece, but the article pretends that it has something to say about the origin of medicine itself. That’s absurd. People all over the world have