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August 18, 1962

The Healing Gods of Ancient Civilizations

JAMA. 1962;181(7):656. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050330086033

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We know that our primitive ancestors believed in varying degrees of pantheism. Nearly all peoples had their pantheons of gods and goddesses. Moreover, deities of healing were especially prevalent in these ancient cultures. Most of us know of Asklepios, the Greek god of healing, and of Imhotep, his Egyptian counterpart, but the remainder of the healing deities are virtually unknown.

In this volume, a host of such gods and goddesses are presented from the ancient cultures of Europe, the Middle East, and India. Short descriptions are given of each deity, some of whom had been outstanding physicians in their day and were subsequently raised to supernatural rank by a grateful people. The ruins of temples to these gods may be found from India to Ireland. An account of the medical concepts of each of these ancient civilizations is given, with the result that one is impressed by the similarities of

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