Early Medicine, from the Body to the Stars
In the autumn of 2010, the Martin Bodmer Foundation (Geneva) organized a unique exhibition on the history of medicine. From Antiquity to the 17th century, 250 items chronicled major developments from a historical and scientific perspective. Step by step, the exhibition followed the path of knowledge as it was formed by a large variety of contacts and influences. The organization of the exhibition was entrusted to Dr. Gérald d’Andiran, Curator and Editor, and to Professor Charles Méla, Director of the Foundation, with the support of Professors Vincent Barras and Bernardino Fantini.
From medicine as it was practised in Ancient Egypt, the exhibition illustrated the Greek origins of the medical art and how knowledge was transmitted through Nestorians, Jews and Arabs. Manuscripts dating from the 8th and 9th centuries suggest an autonomous monastic medical tradition. The medieval herbals and the treatises on Theriaca confirm the close attachment to nature. The hand, exalted in a philosophical text by Galen, becomes a symbol of harmony and knowledge. In the Middle Ages, antique concepts and the erudition of learned men let Hippocrates coexist with astronomy (zodiacal man, astrolabe) and alchemy.
The medieval development accompanies the humanist renewal of the 12th century and the writings of Hildegard von Bingen, exalting the soul. It also underlines the social dimension of the Hôtel-Dieu. In parallel with the science of proportions, the reinvented anatomy becomes an expression of beauty. This is followed by the generalisation of manuscripts, the development of surgery and clinical teachings, and the scientific contributions from the 14th to the 17th century. Asia also forged its paths of medicine, with acupuncture and ayurvedic therapy.
Thirty documents, never presented before, included “wishes for health and long life” (Ming dynasty) and a scroll with the calligraphy of the Buddhist healer’s name, Yakushi Bhaisajyaguru. Among prestigious foreign partners, we mention the British Library and the Wellcome Library (London), the Bodleian Library (Oxford), the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Musée du Louvre (Paris), the Biblioteca apostolica Vaticana, the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Firenze), and the National Library of Sweden (Stockholm). The catalogue contains notes from 98 international contributors.
|Format||25 x 29.5 cm|