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November 13, 1967

Origin of the Caduceus Motif

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Religion, Campbell College, Buie's Creek, NC.

JAMA. 1967;202(7):615-619. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130200101018

The caduceus motif is most ancient. Near Eastern archaeological finds from 3100 BC attest to the twin-snake design. Equally early is the single-snake design. Creation epics of the Near and Far East depict the snake as symbolical of the Agathodaemon or Kakodaemon, the good or the evil one. Other literary documents connect the snake with life, immortality, and the gods of healing. Both archaeological and literary evidences indicate that in most ancient times a snake rod or staff was utilized in the craft of healing.