Computerized Record System

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Primitive humans called upon supernatural spirits to heal their sick while modern medicine relies on science. DNA and research has replaced spirits and shaman.Looking at the history of medicine shows how ideas have developed over the centuries. Medieval barbers were the fore-runners of today's skilled surgeons and the ancient Greeks set the foundations for modern diagnostic techniques. Leonardo da Vinci was amongst the first to dissect the human body to learn how it works. Medical students still learn about anatomy in the same way.Today's medicine has evolved over thousands of years as each generation built on the knowledge of earlier times. This will continue to happen. Our understanding of the human genome will lead to fresh treatments and new discoveries may open the door to unimagined advances in medicine.|

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| You can use the interactive timeline (a Flash animation) or the links below to look at 9 periods of time in this electronic resource (e-source): | Timeline| •| 8000 BC| Prehistoric medicine|

| 2000 BC| Ancient Egyptian medicine|
| 400 BC to 300 AD| Greeks and Romans|
| 500 - 1400| Middle Ages|
| 700 - 1500| Arabic medicines|
| 1400 - 1700| The Renaissance|
| 1700 - 1900| 18th and 19th centuries|
| 1900 - 2000| 20th Century|
| 2000 - 2100| 21st Century medicine|
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8000 BC: Prehistoric medicine| |
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Try the interactive timeline|
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| | It is difficult to imagine anything other than modern medical treatments but for thousands of years humans have become ill and for the same amount of time people have tried to cure them. Our ideas about medicines in prehistoric times come from archaeologists who have excavated and explored ancient sites. Their findings reveal a very different world to the one we experience today.|

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| Links to the spirit world|
| Cave paintings and symbolic artefacts found by archaeologists suggest the earliest humans believed in spirits and supernatural forces. Animals, the stars, the land in which they lived and dead ancestors all inhabited a spirit world that was connected to their everyday life. Special individuals, like Shamen, were thought to be able to contact the spirit world and seek their guidance when they entered mysterious trances. These men and women would call upon the spirits to bring good hunting or heal the sick and were possibly the first doctors.Spirit healers would perform ceremonies and cast spells to treat the sick. We also believe that they dispensed the first medicines. Drinking the blood of a wild animal killed in the hunt would give hunters special powers or eating special plants known only to the shaman could treat sickness. It is possible that these treatments would sometimes have a beneficial effect and it is thought that drugs like digitalis and morphine were first discovered in this way.| | |

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Picture 2. Trepanning: an ancient human skull viewed from above. Note the large hole!|
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| Primitive brain surgery|
| One form of primitive surgery seems quite shocking. Ancient skulls have been found with a hole bored into them. This appears to have been a deliberate operation and carried out whilst the person was still alive. We can only speculate as to the reason for this operation, called trepanning, but it may have been to allow the evil spirits to leave a sick person. Skulls show that the wounds healed and bone grew back so amazingly it appears that patients often survived this radical brain surgery.Western medicine is based on scientific observation and experimentation. We no longer live in the mystical spirit world of the ancients but that does not mean that beliefs no longer play a part in healing. Many people still visit faith healers or follow alternative therapies that claim to tap into invisible forces of nature. Indeed, Shamen still play an important part in certain...
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