Healing and the Elements in the Ancient Mediterranean
by Dr. Heidi Marx, University of Manitoba
Feb 1, 2024
7 p.m. MST
The ancient elements of earth, water, air and fire served as the basis of a totalizing scientific system that encompassed physics, chemistry, biology and medicine. This lecture will focus on the connections between the elements and healing substances and practices as a way of exploring ancient cosmology (the connections between the human and the universe). The presentation will demonstrate that understanding these ancient interconnections between micro and macrocosm at the elemental level makes the ancient world more legible to modern readers of medical texts from the period. It will also make certain ancient popular healing practices — some of which strike us as strange and alienating — more understandable. Engaging with ancient science and healing in this way also allows us to look at our own assumptions about the universe and our own ways of pursuing health and well-being with curiosity and new questions.
Heidi Marx is a Professor in the Religion Department at the University of Manitoba, where she is also an Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts. She is the author of three books and multiple articles. Her most recent co-authored volume is an ancient medicine sourcebook. She is also the co-founder and co-director of ReMeDHe (a working group for religion, medicine, disability, health and healing in late antiquity), a group which has over 300 members worldwide. In her free time, she is an avid amateur ceramicist.