Archaeology of Therapeutic Landscapes

Therapeutic Landscapes is a term first coined by Gesler, a cultural geographer, to describe  well known places of healing like Epidauros (Peloponnese), Lourdes (France) or Bath (England), visited from antiquity to today. The GR-AMs  project uses the term 'Therapeutic Landscapes'  in a different context  to denote  landscapes, both natural and cultural, but which offer little  in terms of built structures. These are places where minerals, minerals-rich waters and muds can be found and which are known historically to have had medicinal applications. Such landscapes include KyllenePikrolimni and Melos

A third, less conventional, 'therapeutic landscape' is that associated with the material culture within the graves (cremations or burials) of doctors/healers of medical men and women  of the Classical/Hellenistic and Roman periods in Macedonia, N Greece. These include the Derveni tombs, the cemeteries in Pydna (Alykes Kitrous and Makrygialos) in Pieria,and Roman Traianoupolis, Xanthi, N Greece. The individuals in these tombs are  buried with their armour, insignia of priesthood but also containers with 'medicines'. Was the deceased a priest officiating at religious ceremonies? Did he practice at one of the local Asclepeia? Did he write his own prescriptions as the  inkpot attached to his medicine box suggests? 

images clockwise from top left: Little owl, at the  Alykes, Melos, cavern. The cavern was used until recently for its therapeutic black muds (see  image on the right). Head of Asclepius, from Moryllos, Kilkis Perfecture. Medicine box with 'clay' substances enclosed, Deveni tombs; entry to the cave of the Argidai nymphs and the old installations at the therapeutic baths at Kaiafas, W Peloponese (images by D. Ignatiadou and E. Photos-Jones).

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