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A History of Science
Williams 
Tome I
Tome II
Tome III Tome IV

Book 1, chapter III
Science of Babylonia and Assyria
Babylonian medicine
 Williams
We have just seen that medical practice in the Babylonian world was strangely under the cloud of superstition. But it should be understood that our estimate, through lack of correct data, probably does much less than justice to the attainments of the physician of the time. As already noted, the existing tablets chance not to throw much light on the subject. It is known, however, that the practitioner of medicine occupied a position of some, authority and responsibility. The proof of this is found in the clauses relating to the legal status of the physician which are contained in the now famous code[22] of the Babylonian King Khamurabi, who reigned about 2300 years before our era. These clauses, though throwing no light on the scientific attainments of the physician of the period, are too curious to be omitted. They are clauses 215 to 227 of the celebrated code, and are as follows:

215. If a doctor has treated a man for a severe wound with a lancet of bronze and has cured the man, or has opened a tumor with a bronze lancet and has cured the man's eye, he shall receive ten shekels of silver.

216. If it was a freedman, he shall receive five shekels of silver.

217. If it was a man's slave, the owner of the slave shall give the doctor two shekels of silver.

218. If a physician has treated a free-born man for a severe wound with a lancet of bronze and has caused the man to die, or has opened a tumor of the man with a lancet of bronze and has destroyed his eye, his hands one shall cut off.

219. If the doctor has treated the slave of a freedman for a severe wound with a bronze lancet and has caused him to die, he shall give back slave for slave.

220. If he has opened his tumor with a bronze lancet and has ruined his eye, he shall pay the half of his price in money.

221. If a doctor has cured the broken limb of a man, or has healed his sick body, the patient shall pay the doctor five shekels of silver.

222. If it was a freedman, he shall give three shekels of silver.

223. If it was a man's slave, the owner of the slave shall give two shekels of silver to the doctor.

224. If the doctor of oxen and asses has treated an ox or an ass for a grave wound and has cured it, the owner of the ox or the ass shall give to the doctor as his pay one-sixth of a shekel of silver.

225. If he has treated an ox or an ass for a severe wound and has caused its death, he shall pay one-fourth of its price to the owner of the ox or the ass.

226. If a barber-surgeon, without consent of the owner of a slave, has branded the slave with an indelible mark, one shall cut off the hands of that barber.

227. If any one deceive the surgeon-barber and make him brand a slave with an indelible mark, one shall kill that man and bury him in his house. The barber shall swear, "I did not mark him wittingly," and he shall be guiltless.


 

 

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© Serge Jodra, 2006. - Reproduction interdite.