Bronze cupping cup, ancient Greece, 400-100 BCE
Cupping is the practice of placing heated cups or vessels like this on the body. It is believed to draw out any impurities and bring blood to the surface of the skin. This is known as dry cupping. Wet cupping is when the welts left on the body are cut to let blood flow out. It was believed that this would re-balance the humours and restore a person to health. This cupping vessel was excavated at an archaeological dig in Syracuse, Sicily, in 1926. Archaeological digs were one of Henry Wellcome’s obsessions.
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The application of a heated cup to the skin, creating a slight vacuum , which causes swelling of the tissues beneath and an increase in the flow of blood to the area. This was thought to draw out harmful excess blood from diseased organs nearby and so promote healing.
Glossary: cupping vessel
Puncturing a vein in order to withdraw blood. A popular medical practice for over two thousand years. Bloodletting often involved withdrawing large quantities of blood in the belief that this would cure or prevent many illnesses and diseases. The practice has been abandoned for all but a few very specific conditions.