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Medical Communities in the Ancient Mediterranean

Sponsored by the Society for Ancient Medicine and Pharmacy (SAM). SAM is an affiliated group of the Society for Classical Studies.

The doctors who appear (as authors or characters) in medical texts from the ancient Mediterranean world, from the Hippocratics to Galen and beyond, often present themselves as lone actors. In reality, of course, ancient medical practice engaged a rich network of many kinds of social linkages, as studies like Israelowich (2015) have shown. A broader consideration of both textual and material evidence suggests communities of patients (both in the urban ambits of doctors and in therapeutic spaces like temples and baths), patrons, doctors and their students, therapists of other kinds, as well as a multilayered network of drug-sellers, instrument-makers, and other technical practitioners who facilitated the practice of medicine in the ancient Mediterranean. Relationships within and between these communities could be collaborative or competitive, expressed in technical treatises or letters to friends and family, celebrated in visual representations, or embodied in material evidence.

Accepted papers will be presented on the SAM panel at the SCS at the 2019 Annual Meeting, which will be held January 3-6 in San Diego. Applicants must be members of the SCS at the time of application.

Please send an abstract of 500 words of your proposed paper (20 min.) by e-mail to Courtney Roby ( The abstract should omit any reference identifying the author to ensure anonymity in the review process. Deadline for submission of abstracts is February 15, 2018.