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Population Density and Disease in Greek Medical Theory and Practice: Early Social Distancing?

Katherine D. van Schaik

Harvard University/Harvard Medical School

Although germ theory as such was unknown to Greek medicine, observations about relationships between disease outbreaks and urban planning influenced practitioners’ ideas about disease etiology. Using Hippocratic texts such as Airs Waters Places and Galen’s references to the Antonine plague, I argue that medical practitioners acknowledged the importance of what we call ‘social distancing’ in mitigating the spread of disease.

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Lightning Session 1: History and Literature

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