Herophilus of chalcedon: A pioneer neuroscience

Acar F., Naderi S., Guvencer M., Ture U.

NEUROSURGERY, vol.56, no.4, pp.861-866, 2005 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 56 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Doi Number: 10.1227/01.neu.0000156791.97198.58
  • Journal Name: NEUROSURGERY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.861-866
  • Keywords: Alexandria, chalcedon, herophilus, history of medicine, neuroscience
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: No


A REVIEW OF the history of ancient medicine reveals that most of the knowledge is concentrated in the studies of a few scientists. The best-known names include Hippocrates, Rufus of Ephesus, Celsus, and Galen. The survival of their works throughout the ages has been the most important factor contributing to their popularity. However, there are other scientists who made great contributions to science, but whose writings have been lost or destroyed over the course of time. As a result, their names are not as well known as those of others and the value of their contributions is not appreciated. With the improvement of communication technology in the past 50 years, links between the studies of ancient science can be made more effectively and scientists who have remained hidden under the shade of time have begun, after thousands of years, to receive the appreciation they deserve. In the field of neuroscience, the historical record focuses on Galen of Pergamon. But, when his marvelous works are carefully studied, it is interesting to note two names he frequently referenced: Herophilus (335-280 BC) and Erasistratus (310-250 BC). These two scientists were the first to place scientific value oil the dissection of the human body. Herophilus is considered the father of scientific anatomy, and Erasistratus was the first experimental physiologist. Attracted by the prospect of material advancement and eminent students, both migrated from their homes in Asia Minor to Alexandria. The works of Herophilus and Erasistratus have been lost entirely, but some details of their teachings may be recovered from the writings of Galen. In this study, we focus on Herophilus, a master of ancient medicine, whose important discoveries about the human body formed the basis for positive science and the foundation for neuroscience.