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Explore the history of medicine through the British Sign Language videos from the Brought to Life website  

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Belief: The model of the Asklepion

Model of the Asklepion

When the ancient Greeks were ill they would visit the local Asklepion, a shrine to the Greek god of healing, Asklepios.

Diseases: Pomanders

Pomanders

In the 1500s and 1600s, pomanders were used to combat poisonous vapours, or miasma, believed to cause disease and illness.

Hospitals: Hospital fund model

Model of a hospital

In the 1930s this minature hospital toured the country. It was an eye-catching way of showing the work of modern hospitals to the public.

Practicing Medicine: Nurse's kit

Nurse's kit

A nurse owned this kit, and used it when visiting patient’s homes. It contains syringes, pipettes, a measuring cylinder, and some empty bottles.

Public health: Hygiene models

Hygiene models

These miniature pipes, sewerage fittings, toilets and wash basins were used to demonstrate good and bad practice for public hygiene in 1895.

Science: Lister's microscope

Lister's microscope

Before Joseph Lister developed his achromatic lens in 1826, the microscope was not fully accepted as a reliable tool for medical research.

Surgery: Amputation saw

Amputation saw

This ornate saw would have impressed patients – a kind of status symbol, but the lavish decoration harboured germs, risking further infection.

Treatments & cures: Iron lung

Iron lung

This iron lung kept sufferers of polio alive when they struggled to breathe. It was a lifesaver, but also a terrifying confinement.

Understanding the body: Vesalius

Vesalius' book De Humani Corporis Fabrica

Vesalius' book De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) revealed the hidden mysteries of the human body through dissection.

War & medicine: Artificial leg

Artificial right leg, Singapore, c.1943

The owner of this leg was a prisoner of war during the Second World War. It was made from aircraft parts by their comrades within the camp.