The Great Doctors

The Great Doctors

The Great Doctors

The Great Doctors


There have always been healers among us. Medicine is as old as pain itself, as old as humanity.

We can never know the name of the first healer. He is lost to us in the mists of the past. Like the inventor of the wheel, like the man who first tamed fire, he must remain an unknown hero of civilization.

In the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nippur, four thousand years ago, a scribe wrote in cuneiform on a tablet of clay the prayer of a king’s daughter: “Pain has seized my body. May God tear this pain out!”

Four thousand years ago! But only yesterday, really. Mankind’s past goes back at least a hundred times as far. The doctor who healed that princess in Nippur is far closer to our own time than he was to the time of humanity’s first doctor.

Maybe that doctor lived in the forests of Europe, a few hundred thousand years ago, or perhaps in the steaming jungles of Java even earlier, or in the sprawling tablelands of South Africa. He was probably a priest as well as a doctor. His people must have considered him a man of supernatural power. His first patient may have been himself. A slashed finger may have become infected and puffy. It throbbed with pain.

“If I cut the finger off,” this unsung genius must have thought . . .

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