This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.
Medical art had a relatively small place in the defenses of primitive man, as revealed by radiography of fossil bones and comparative pathology and parasitology. Magic rites assumed a larger role than therapeutic procedures, although an tary form of surgery concerned with the reduction of fractures and the dressing of wounds was practiced early. As far as bone lesions reveal the story of primitive man's diseases, they were those still prevalent today: tuberculosis of the bone, cancer, Paget's disease and probably syphilis. Fractures, both consolidated and not, suggest efforts at reduction. In the light of paleopathology and prehistory the oldest known medical writings were antedated by millenniums of primitive arts of medicine and surgery.
Etude sur la médecine de l'homme préhistorique. JAMA. 1938;110(1):71. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790010073034