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Medicine in Ancient Rome Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

Roman medicine attempted to heal everyday health problems through a number of treatments. In this lesson, learn about how ancient Roman doctors and physicians tried to cure diseases, treat wounds, and improve health.

Modern Versus Ancient Roman Healthcare

If you've ever been to the hospital, perhaps for a broken finger or to have your tonsils taken out, you may remember all the different machines. Today, we use complicated technology like X-rays and MRI machines to understand and treat health problems. Thousands of years ago, however, doctors had only a few tools to work with. During the time of ancient Rome, from roughly 3000 to 1500 years ago, doctors studied medicine just as they do today, although they used very different techniques to make their patients better.

Preventing Illness and Disease

We know that Romans liked to prevent diseases before they happened instead of focusing on how to cure them. While Romans didn't exactly understand what causes disease the way we do today, they attempted to create public health projects, meant to improve the health of the entire community. For example, they built their homes away from where insects lived and drained swamps, which would attract bugs and disease. They also constructed huge sewage systems to take away waste from cities.

Ruins of Roman sewer
ruins

Most Romans preferred to spend their money keeping in shape and exercising instead of seeing a doctor. Additionally, to prevent disease, Roman military commanders ordered that their soldiers have clean water and not stay too long in one place.

Doctor Visits

While Roman doctors didn't wear white coats and work in hospitals like they do today, they were relied on for their knowledge and ability to treat patients. Romans took their knowledge of medicine from the Greeks, building upon the knowledge of ancient Greece to form their own type of medicine and their own type of doctors. In fact, some Greek doctors came to Rome because they could make more money.

Roman tools used for surgery
Roman doctor tools

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