Medicine in Ephesus


In ancient time probably one of the temples was used as the gathering place for ill people in Ephesus. The priests did not want their temple to be known as “the place to go to die.” If a patient was considered near death or seriously sick, he or she was sent back home to pray for Gods and return in a few days it means those too sick to survive were sent home to die. It is possible to say nobody ever died in the hospital or temple. All surgeries also were performed outdoors in Ephesus. It is known that later on in Ephesus many medical schools were opened after using temples as hospital for a while. During the Roman period, Ephesus was the home to a very large medical school.

The famous Greek physician and author of numerous treatises on medical care, Soranus, was born in Ephesus. Rufus was another famous Ephesian doctor. Their written works have a great importance in the history of medicine. Rufus was an expert in anatomy and mostly he wrote works about the treatment of wounds, diet, gout, cardiac system, vascular / renal / bladder illnesses etc. Beside all these works he also invented many pharmacological recipes. Another Ephesian doctor Soranos who practiced in Alexandria, was famous with his gynecology works. He wrote works about hygiene, fever, broken bones, pharmacological preparations, dislocations, prescriptions, gynecological illnesses and obstetrics. There is also a statue of Alexandros with Greek inscription on Curetes street in Ephesus and he was well known doctor too. Teaching was an important part of doctors’ duties and they took pupils to ensure the continuance of medical service.

During archaeological excavations in Ephesus the bronze lancet was found. It is well known that lancet was a useful tool used in bloodletting. Also surgeon’s drills, needles, spatulas, curettes, hooks etc for surgeries and mortars, pestles etc for mixing medicines have been found in Ephesus and all these medical tools can be seen in Ephesus Museum in Selcuk. In ruins of Ephesus there is a universal symbol of medicine “caduceus”.