14 terms

Prehistoric Medicine

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Prehistory
The period of time in any society before written records were produced.
trepanning
Medical treatment involving boring holes into the skull. It can be used to treat certain brain disorders and has been used in the past to release supposed evil spirits.
artifact
An object made by humans, especially those from earlier times. These are an important source of knowledge about prehistoric cultures.
shaman
Also known as a 'medicine man'. This member of a prehistoric tribe would have some knowledge of herbal remedies and could supposedly contact the spirit world.
nomadic
A way of life that involves continually being on the move in order to hunt animals that migrate to different areas.
trial and error
The way in which prehistoric people discovered which plants, berries and herbs could be used as medicine and which were poisonous.
spirits
Almost all primitive cultures believed in these and thought they caused illnesses that they couldn't explain any other way.
charm
Something that was worn on the body to ward off evil spirits.
natural remedies
These were made of herbs, plants, minerals and animal parts. Some of these cures did work because of the natural antiseptic qualities of the ingredients. However, prehistoric people could not explain why they worked and also used more supernatural approaches too.
sweat lodges
Native American treatment for fever, swellings, lung disease and chest pain. This involved putting the patient in a wooden shelter and filling it with steam.
broken bones
This type of injury was dealt with by using mud, clay or animal fat or binding it up with feathers, animal skins or tree bark.
tea-tree leaves
Remedy used by the Aborigines of Australia who burnt them to make a vapour that, when inhaled, was good for breathing problems.
cherry tree bark
Remedy used by the Native Americans to reduce coughing. It was ground down and added to hot water.
family members
These were the first people you would go to if you were ill. They may have some knowledge of natural remedies that had been passed down from generation to generation.
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