Traces of Medical Activity in Ephesus

Luciana Rita Angeletti


Ephesus was an important city of Asia Minor, existing as an exchange point between Egypt and the Greek-Roman world. As it was the birthplace of famous physicians and situated between Kos-Knidos and Pergamon, it is surprising that no medical buildings have been clearly identified in this area. In the upper old Hellenistic city, two pillars include, on the southern face, a youth with a goat and Hermes, respectively. On the internal faces, reliefs of tripods, an omphalos, a mortar and a twined snake may refer to mantic and/or pharmacy and medicine. Near the pillars, a temple for sacrifices dedicated to Hera and a statue of Apollo manteion in the Prytaneion have been found. Because both the Apollo and Hermes myths are closely related to medicine, the pillars may be a sign of medical activity in that part of the city. This activity may be related to both mantic in the direction of the temple and practice in the direction of a building which has not yet been identified. This interpretation is confirmed by an inscription on the Museion-Church of Virgin Mary: a physician from the Mouseion is referred to as a practitioner near the supreme preist (hieros): thus, the pillars may be an indication of both sacred and medical activities in that part of the city.


Key words: Ephesus - Mantic - Medicine - Pharmacy - Iatreion

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