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Gerontology. 2000 Jan-Feb;46(1):2-6.

The roots of geriatric medicine: care of the aged in Byzantine times (324-1453 AD).

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  • 1Department of History of Medicine, Medical School, Athens University, Athens, Greece.



The search for the roots of geriatric medicine, which has been considered a relatively new branch.


The purpose of the study is the research of the original Byzantine medical texts and the contemporary historical sources so as to bring to light knowledge about ancient medical care.


The medical texts of Byzantine physicians were studied and analysed, as well as the Histories and Chronicles of their contemporary writers, so as to locate the extracts in the texts concerning geriatric care from the scientific point of view and that of the 'vox populi' which the historians and chroniclers express.


The problems of old age occupied physicians from earliest Byzantine times. They had dealt with the characteristics, symptoms and accompanying diseases of the aged and endeavoured to confront all the medical problems faced by the elderly, providing a special healthy regimen for the third age and taking steps for the prevention of diseases of this age group and their treatment. Parallel to this, the research of contemporary historical texts proves the concern of all society for the special problems of the aged and the significant impact of scientific geriatric medicine on the population.


The study and analysis of the original medical and historical texts of the Byzantine period (324-1453 AD), written in Greek language, prove that the roots of medical care of old age could be traced from ancient Greek and Byzantine medicine.

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