History Session - 2010 Meeting, Antalya, Turkey - Turkish Medicine in History

Article Index

1. Turkish Medicine in History

Nil Sarı
Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty,Dept. MedicalHhistory and Ethics,
Istanbul University

Turkish tribes and states of Eurasia had relations with a cultural area extending from northern China in the east to the north of the Black Sea in the west throughout their history, hence Turkish people carried medical knowledge and practice from one civilization to another over a large geographical area. Turks also carried their traditions with them during their journey from the Central Asia to Anatolia. Seljukians were heirs of the Central Asian Turkish culture.  Stylized animal motifs and figural reliefs of Seljukian  hospitals’ gates reflect the pre-Islamic cult of Central Asia. However, several pre-Islamic features continued to be shaped in the context of Islamic culture during the Ottoman period.  On the other side, from the 11th century on, Galenic and Hippocratic medicine of the Western world came to be a basic part of Turkish medicine through integration with the Islamic medical world of which Turkish medical professionals were a main population. A second period of Westernisation started during the 18th century and accelerated in the 19th century. The transition of medical knowledge this time was attained directly from European medical professionals. During late 19th and early 20th centuries, Turkish physicians educated on contemporary medicine contributed to the field. However, it is possible to find traces of archaic practices amongst traditional circles in rural areas, that attract tourists. Festivities during the scattering of the trational drug mesir and visits to mausoleums praying for spiritual treatment are examples of it. But, as Turkish people today search for the latest medical treatment methods, traditional practices have now come to be either entertainments reminiscent of the past rituals or a means of hope for the incurable.