Tag: Science in the Middle Ages


Abortions in Byzantine times (325-1453 AD)

All legislation of Byzantium from the earliest times also condemned abortions. Consequently, foeticide was considered equal to murder and infanticide and the result was severe punishments for all persons who participated in an abortive technique reliant on drugs or other methods. The punishments could extend to exile, confiscation of property and death.


A glimpse into the early origins of medieval anatomy through the oldest conserved human dissection (Western Europe, 13th c. A.D.)

Little is known about medieval anatomical preparations, as only theoretical treatises signed by surgeons and physicians have survived. In 2003, a mummified human torso was sold by a medical antiquities art dealer from Paris, and is now conserved in a Canadian private collection; its recent multidisciplinary analysis was the occasion of a whole description of such an anatomical preparation, and to improve our knowledge about early occidental autopsy/dissection techniques and body preservation


Myths and mandrakes

Others, however, began to wonder whether the possession of roots might not bring them success in other areas as well—wealth, popularity, or the power to control their own and other people’s destinies, and took to wearing them as good luck charms.


The Rise of Alchemy in Fourteenth-Century England

However the alchemical source of the early fourteenth century also explicitly maintained that knowledge of the secret of secrets involved an understanding of the hidden forces within the earth, and this in turn would bring earthly power. The most obvious manifestation of this interest in alchemical secrets lay in the belief that controlled experimentation with mercury and sulphur could effect transmutation of base metals into gold.