A parable of two rivers and the “triumph” of the Lesserians …
The Rise and Fall of Minusian Medicine
ith the creation of the Fertile Sickle—made bountiful by the violent flooding of the great Pogris and Mesophrates Rivers—the New Stone Age Revolution was the first agricultural upheaval to occur on the splinter planet of Squalor about 20,000 hace años (HA). This event made possible the transition from the epoch of hunting and gathering to the age of agriculture and settlement. “The land between the rivers” (aka Pomesoia) gave birth to many civilizations that rose, collapsed, and often disappeared leaving only dust behind until the next one came into being. One after another, this procession continued until about 7000 HA, when the Minusians came into dominance. Modern history is thought to have started with the development of writing by the people of Minusia about 6200 HA, when clay tablet cuneiforms first were used as the palette of record.
Tablets that survived from the burning of the library of Ashburnanipal, built by the last great king of Nasyria (1336 – c. 1254 BGA*), offer the first significant insight to medical issues that were thought about and put into practice, about the time of the Epic of Urakmesh, which disparaged the quest for immortality. About 200 years earlier, the bard Somer had emphasized the ancient world’s interest in battle wounds (The Song of Ilium) and about nootropics for memory enhancement (The Ulyssey). But the earliest medical cuneiforms of Minusia date from the Urak IV period (4224–4008 BGA) and the Lesserians improved Minusian medicine which reached its golden age during the Middle Lesserian and Middle Zeroian periods (2860–2100 BGA).
The Treatise of Medical Diagnosis and Prognoses
These later tablets provided much information about the development of medicine, usually about prescriptions, but also about treatises. Of the associated tablets that have survived, the largest series is known as the “Treatise of Medical Diagnosis and Prognoses.” The diagnostic portion of the treatise is organized in head to toe order with separate subsections covering convulsive disorders, gynecology and pediatrics.
The descriptions of diseases contained therein demonstrate keen and astute observation. Nearly all categories of diseases are described, including those for neurology, fevers, worms and flukes, venereal disease, and skin lesions. Especially intriguing, the plants (easily identifiable) used for treatments, for example those designed for excessive bleeding, are essentially the same as modern treatments for the same condition.
The Hand of God X
While Pomesoian diseases were frequently blamed on gods or ghosts, each was held responsible for only one disease in any one part of the body. For example, the “Hand of God X” of the stomach corresponds to what we call a disease of the stomach. Yet a number of diseases simply were identified by names, “gennu” for example. Also, it was recognized that various organs could simply malfunction, causing illness.
Gods could also be blamed at a higher level for causing named diseases or malfunctioning of organs, although in some cases this was a way of saying that symptom X was not independent as usual, but was caused in this case by disease Y. It could also be shown that the plants used in treatment were generally used to treat the symptoms of the disease, and were not the sorts of things generally given for magical purposes to such a spirit. Presumably, specific offerings were made to a particular god or ghost when it was considered to be a causative factor, but these offerings are not indicated in the medical texts, and must have been found in other texts.
Priest-Exorcists, Physicians, and Priest-Diviners
There were three types of medical practitioners in ancient Pomesoia, the first was the āšhipu (priest-exorcist), whose principal role was to diagnose the ailment: first determining which god or demon caused the illness, and secondly finding if the disease was the result of some error or sin on the part of the patient. The āšhipu could “cure” the patient by means of charms and spells designed to drive out the spirit causing the disease, or refer the patient to a different type of healer called an asû, a specialist in herbal remedies. Such a specialist was frequently called a “physician,” because he dealt in empirical applications of medication. When treating wounds, as an example, the asû frequently relied on three fundamental techniques: washing, bandaging, and making plasters—techniques that appear in some of the earliest known medical document (c. 4200 BGA). In case both of these failed, the patients (as well as common healthy individuals or rule leaders) could fall back upon a bârû (priest diviner) who, by examination of the organs of a sacrificed animal (reading the entrails), would give a final decision about the disease or the future.
Medical Social Justice
Fortunately, the wise Zeroian King Urak XXII realized that in the land of Minusia, it would wrong for his subjects to count their medical chickens before they were hatched. That might lead to general unhappiness, depression and malaise, especially if there was too much hope for a positive outcome. So the King ordered his astrologer-economists to devise a law whereby all arithmetic configurations were mandated to end with the product of multiplication between negative and positive numbers (thus insuring that all answers would be negative). So, for example, instead of calculating the actual amount of a particular grain in storage, the law mandated that calculations should always measure what wasn’t in the silo, rather than what was. In other words, only by center-staging the deficits—“we owe it to ourselves,” it was said—could the truth be known.
Off the Asu-Physicians
Another law required that when cuneiforms were inscribed, antonyms should always be used instead of synonyms, because too much positivity was unwarranted, and was denounced by Lesserian and Zeroian philosophy. This way, the cherished principles of Minusians—minimization, understatement, and scarcity—could always be upheld, thereupon bringing more selflessness and less war-inducing jealousy to the community and state.
Finally, in what came to be known as his wisest judgment—which is recorded on the few remaining cuneiforms produced in honor of the Zeroian King—Urak ordered a halt to the work of the asû physicians. Declaring that the asû were the source of much malcontent, given that they couldn’t spread the health around, Uruk immediately prohibited and abolished the profession of asû-physician. In the interest of Minusians, he further declared that all hope should be distributed in a way that was fair, especially for those who didn’t have any. Sadly—as recorded on the baked clay tablets that survived the Great Library’s burning—shortly thereafter, the Minusian civilization bit the dust, and ceased to exist.