Project Description

Greek Medicine: The journey from myth to science

Development-Research-Design of Ancient Greek Medicine Program: Nikoleta Xydea, Archaeologist-Museologist MA & Panoraia Kalompratsou, Historian-Palaeographer MA

Development- Research-Design of Byzantine Medicine Program: Nikoleta Xydea

Venue: Museum of History of the University of Athens → Medical, Dental and Science Collections

Who can participate: Adult visitors, pharmaceutical and medical companies, students in Medicine,Archeology, History and Humanitarian studies.

Duration: one-day or two-day program (Date and time of the program is defined by consulting with the Department of Culture & Education)

Maximum number of participants: 20-25 persons

Theme of the Cultural Program: Overview of medical science from Antiquity and Homeric Age to Byzantine era and the first decades after the Fall of Constantinople (1453).


The participants of the cultural program will cover a variety of objectives. Specifically:

  • They will discover the beginning of medicine, initiallyas a field of methodology and its evolution in the scientific field over the centuries.
  • They will have the opportunity tocompare the instruments of modern medicine and the ancient and Byzantine instruments, establishing the durability of the latter.
  • They will come into contact with medical practices and curative methods of antiquity and Byzantine Era.
  • They will enrich their knowledge in the history of medicine.
  • They will travel to the world of ancient Greek mythology, learning myths about the origins of medicine and the worship that accompanied it in the ancient world.
  • They will become better acquainted with significant representatives of ancient and Byzantine medicine.
  • They will tour the rich medical collections of the History Museum of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, within a building of unique history and architecture.
  • In the end, they will have the chance to get acquainted with the country’s cultural heritage in the field of medicine.

FIRST PART OF THE PROGRAM: The Greek Medicine in antiquity

The first part of the educational program aims to illustrate the deeper components of medicine, which was created in ancient Greece and evolved from a primitive medicine into a healing art and eventually was formed into a philosophically shaped science.

The first part of the program presents Greek Medicine from the Homericage to the late Hellenistic and Roman times. Our visitors are offered an overview of the possibilities and limits of ancient scientific medicine, the number of medical and surgical instruments, therapeutic practices in the clinics, as well as, the sometimescontroversial, psychological and mystical therapies – forms of ancient medicine. Alongside prescriptions and medicines, healing methods are also presented, demonstratinghow important the sanctuaries of the doctors were, in which people used to ask the Gods for help in the event of illness; a fact that proves the importance of religious medicine.

Meanwhile, significant representatives of ancient Greek medicine are mentioned, as well as their achievements, which have an important impact on medical treatment methods to date.

At the end of the first part of the program, the participants will also be acquainted with Hellenistic and Roman medicine, as well as, Greek doctors of those times.

SECOND PART OF THE PROGRAM: Greek Medicine in the Byzantine Era

This section dates from the 3rd century A.D. to the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Our visitors going through these centuries will be acquainted with various and important aspects of medical science and how it evolves within the confines of the Byzantine Empire.

Alongside the presentation of Byzantine doctors, a standard health system in Byzantium is also mentioned, with an analysis of the evolution of hospitals and care structures in the Empire. At the same time, the evolution of medical perceptions during this period is presented as well as the influence the ancient Greek medicine has on Byzantine medical thought.

TheByzantine pharmacology and medicationare significantly mentioned as well as the contribution of the Byzantines in this field. At the same time, medical textbooks, medical codes and Byzantine physicians-writers enrich the review of Byzantine medicine. In addition the role of the Holy Healersis also emphasized in the overall view of Health and Disease in Byzantium.

The whole program takes place at the Museum of History of the University of Athens. Presentations, structured for each part of the program are viewed. Plenty of photographic material of archaeological evidence visualizes the historical knowledge and archaeological information provided to the participants. Short audiovisual theatrical events dedicated to the Fathers of Hellenic Medicine enrich the educational program, which includes a tour of theCollections of Medicine, Dentistry, Sciences and Scientific instruments of the History Museum of the University of Athens, in Plaka.

The program can be conducted: either as a one-day event or as a two-day event, depending on the needs and wishes of our participating visitors.