International Conference Leuven 30–31 August 2016

« Where Does it Hurt?  Ancient Medicine in Questions and Answers »

Call for Papers

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Prof. Dr. Robert Mayhew (Seton Hall University)

Asking the right questions and obtaining the right answers is vital to modern medical healthcare. It is essential for efficient doctor-patient communication, forming an important component of medical treatment. This was no different in Antiquity. Already the Hippocratic writings give us an idea of which kinds of questions physicians asked in diagnosing their patients, and which answers they received in return (see, e.g., the case histories in the Epidemics). However, one can imagine that patients or, in case of severe illness, their relatives were often incapable of providing an accurate answer to (some of) the doctor’s questions. Galen, for instance, says that certain types of pain are actually felt by patients, but cannot be described by them when asked to (Loc. Aff. 2, 9 [8, 117 Kühn]). As such, a good doctor had to be able not simply to ask the right questions, but also to look for the right answers himself, if necessary.

The use of question-and-answer (Q&A) formulas is widely attested in ancient medical literature. By employing specific interrogative turns in their discourses, medical authors not only sought to provide practical information for proper treatment of patients, but also to amass theoretical insights about the human body and its physiological and pathological processes more generally. They dealt with several types of questions, including questions that sought to locate, define and explain certain illnesses or disorders in the body (“Where does it hurt?”, “What is it that hurts?”, ”Why does it hurt?”). Questions of this kind were common in medical treatises of the Greco-Roman period (they can be found, e.g., in medical manuals, medical papyri and collections of problemata). The popularity of the Q&A format is largely due to the fact that it became well-entrenched in the ancient medical school curriculum. Through its dialogical and interrogative structure, it provided teachers and students with a useful method to question and memorize all types of medical knowledge, both practical and theoretical. Once condensed in a textual form, it was also useful in transferring this knowledge between author and reader.

This conference aims to bring together scholars from the field of medical history and related fields (history of science, [natural] philosophy, theology, literary studies, linguistics, …) with the goal of examining the role of Q&A in medical literature, from the Hippocratic writers to Late Antiquity and its reception in the Middle Ages. The conference is open to various approaches, and aims to address – but is not restricted to – questions of content (e.g., transfer and transformation of medical knowledge in Q&A style), textuality (e.g., development from orality to written text), context (e.g., socio-intellectual relations between doctor/patient, teacher/student, author/reader), and use (e.g., theoretical contemplation vs. practical application of medical knowledge).

Please send your abstract (ca. 500 words) and a short bio (ca. 10 lines) by 15 January 2016 to Erika Gielen ( and Michiel Meeusen ( Presentations should be 20 minutes in length. In your abstract, please include a clear summary of your argument and an indication of how your paper would contribute to critical reflection on the topic as a whole. Early career researchers are especially encouraged to send in an abstract. The organisers hope, but cannot promise, to be able to offer accommodation to speakers.

Prostheses in Antiquity Conference

L'une des plus anciennes prothèses connues, datant de l'Égypte antique, aujourd'hui dans le musée du Caire. Le gros orteil est sculpté dans le bois. Il était lié au pied par une gaine de cuir cousue.
L’une des plus anciennes prothèses connues, datant de l’Égypte antique, aujourd’hui dans le musée du Caire. Le gros orteil est sculpté dans le bois. Il était lié au pied par une gaine de cuir cousue.

A Wellcome Trust and Classical Association Funded Conference to be held at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Lampeter Campus on Tuesday 30th June

Conference Programme

9.30 am                 WELCOME
10.00 am        ‘Prosthetics, Aids and Disability: A Modern View’
Ellen Adams, King’s College London
10.30 am        ‘The Prosthetic Service Today’
Ian Massey, Cardiff Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre
11.00 – 11.30 am        TEA & COFFEE
11.30 am        ‘Prostheses and Anatomical Ex Votos in Antiquity’
Alyce-Rose Cannon, University of Sydney
12.00 pm        ‘Objects as Prostheses in Fifth Century Athenian Tragedy’
Anne-Sophie Noel, University of Lyon
12.30 pm        ‘Prosthetic Hair in Ancient Rome’
Jane Draycott, University of Wales Trinity Saint David
13.00 pm – 14.00 pm     LUNCH
14.00 pm        “Unconscious of his arms and his legs”: Perceptions, Prognoses,  and the Treatment of Paralysis and Loss of Function Injuries in the Ancient Mediterranean’
Katherine van Schaik, Harvard University
14.30 pm        ‘“An amputee may go out with his wooden aid on Shabbat”: Socio-cultural Dynamics and Medical Knowledge Related to Disabilities and Prostheses in Talmudic Traditions’
Lennart Lehmhaus, Freie Universität Berlin

15.00 – 15.30 pm        TEA & COFFEE

15.30 pm        ‘Evidence of a Late Antique Amputation in a Skeleton from the Hemmaberg’

Josef Eitler, Landesmuseum Kärnten & Michaela Binder, Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut
16.00 pm        ‘The Complex Aspects of Experimental Archaeology: the Design of Working Models of Two Ancient Egyptian Great Toes Prostheses’
Jacky Finch, KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, University of Manchester
16.30 – 17.30 pm        DISCUSSION
17.30 – 18.00 pm        WINE RECEPTION
18.00 pm        Keynote Address: ‘Prostheses in Antiquity: Function, Form and Fabrication’
Ralph Jackson, British Museum
19.30 pm                CONFERENCE DINNER

Pseudo-Galenic Texts and the Formation of the Galenic Corpus

An international conference at the Warburg Institute, London, 14-15 May 2015 organised by Dr. Caroline Petit, University of Warwick
The conference is supported by the Wellcome Trust, the University of Warwick, the Institute of Classical Studies and the Warburg Institute.
Draft programme:
Thursday 14 May
10.00-10.20 : Registration and welcome, tea and coffee
10.20-10.30 Welcome address (Prof. Greg Woolf, Director of the Institute of Classical Studies).
10.30-10.45 Caroline Petit (Warwick): Pseudo-Galenic texts from antiquity to the Renaissance: different patterns (an introduction)
Antiquity (chair: Simon Swain)
10.45-11.15 Vivian Nutton (UCL):  Crumbs from the rich man’s table? Three Roman pharmacological texts.
11.15-11.45 Laurence Totelin (Cardiff): Easy Remedies – Difficult texts: the pseudo-Galenic Euporista.
11.45-12.00 tea and coffee
12.00-12.30 Véronique Boudon-Millot (CNRS, Paris): Is the Theriac to Piso attributed to Galen authentic?
12.30-13.00 Nathalie Rousseau (Paris IV-Sorbonne): Remarques sur la langue de la Thériaque à Pison

Oriental tradition (chair: Charles Burnett)
14.00-14.30 Siam Bhayro (Exeter): Galen and Pseudo-Galen in the Syriac tradition
14.30-15.00 Aileen Das (Manchester): Universalizing Medicine: the ps.-Galenic Commentary On Hippocrates ‘Sevens
15.00-15.30 Mauro Zonta (Roma): About the authenticity of Galen’s Perì alypìas in Judeo-Arabic and Hebrew, compared to the recently found Greek text
15.30-16.00 Tea & coffee
Middle Ages (West) (chair: Cloudy Fischer)
16.00-16.30 Arsenio Ferraces Rodríguez (Universidad da Coruña): An early medieval pseudo-Galen: the chapter De ponderibus medicinalibus
16.30-17.00 Charles Burnett (Warburg): The Ps. Galenic De spermate in the middle ages
17.00-17.30 Outi Merisalo (Jyväskylä): La fortune du De spermate dans les éditions imprimées de Galien du XVe au XVIIe s.
17.30-18.30 Reception (all participants)
Friday 15 May
Late antiquity and Byzantium (chair: Peregrine Horden)
10.15-10.45 Klaus-Dietrich Fischer (Mainz): Drugs to declare. A fresh look at some works with pharmaceutical content attributed to Galen

10.45-11.15 Petros Bouras-Vallianatos (KCL): Pseudo-Galenic Texts on Urines and Pulse in Late Byzantium: The Case of Wellcome MS.MSL.60
11.15-11.45 Tea & coffee
11.45-12.15 Brigitte Mondrain (EPHE, Paris): Les traités pseudo-galéniques dans les manuscrits byzantins
12.15-12.45 Barbara Zipser (Royal Holloway): Pseudo-Galenic texts in Byzantine Iatrosophia
12.45-13.15 Marie Cronier (CNRS, Paris): Les Definitiones Medicae pseudo-galéniques à Byzance
Latin translations and editions (chair: Vivian Nutton)
14.15-14.45 Christina Savino (Humboldt-Universität, Berlin): The Pseudogalenic commentaries on Hippocrates edited by G.B. Rasario (1517-1578)
14.45-15.15 Mareike Jas (Munich): Nicolaus of Rhegium as an independent witness to the text of pseudo-Galen´s historia philosopha
15.15-15.45 Stefania Fortuna (Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona): Pseudo-Galenic texts in the printed editions of Galen

CALL FOR PAPERS – Greek diet, health, and medicine in the Roman world: Integration and analysis of the archaeological and literary material

Still-life mosaic of fruit, vegetables, seafood and meat from a villa at Tor Marancia, 2nd century CE
Still-life mosaic of fruit, vegetables, seafood and meat from a villa at Tor Marancia, 2nd century CE

University of Exeter, Devon, UK, September 9-11, 2015

 An international conference organised and funded through the Leventis Initiative on the Impact of Greek Culture.

Concepts and attitudes towards diet, health, and medicine in the Roman world were heavily influenced by Greek beliefs and practices. Later Greek and Roman medical writers such as Galen built upon a Greek foundation and followed existing traditions. Yet did Greek concepts of health and medicine spread to all regions of the Roman Empire?

The study of diet, health, and medicine in the Roman world, from an archaeological perspective, has grown exponentially in the last few decades with the increased study of archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological remains as well as advances in isotopic analysis. Nevertheless, the impact of Greek concepts on Roman beliefs and practices has never been fully explored, and at present, there has been no amalgamation of the literary and archaeological evidence. How do we assess Greek influence archaeologically? Can the claims of both Greek and Roman authors concerning health be reconciled with the existing bioarchaeological and material evidence?

This conference will examine the impact of Greek thought on Roman notions of diet, health and medicine from both the literary and archaeological perspectives with the goal of forming a more holistic understanding of the activities taking place to maintain good health amongst both the elite and non-elite members of Roman society.

Keynote addresses by:

Dr. Alexandra Livarda (University of Nottingham)

Dr. David Leith (University of Exeter).

Proposed sessions include:

-Greek and non-Greek writings on the relationship between diet, health and medicine

-Integration of the literary and archaeological evidence: Diet and health

-Integration of the literary and archaeological evidence:  Medicine and medical practices

-Reversing influences: Impact of Roman thought on Greek notions of well-being

Paper abstracts due:  March 27, 2015

 Abstracts should be 250-300 words. Acceptance of these will be confirmed as quickly as possible. Papers will be 30 minutes in length with 15 minutes for questions.  

 Please email abstract submissions to the conveners: 

Erica Rowan (

Daniel King (