Simone Zimmermann Kuoni (Trinity College Dublin), «Long before Hippocrates: Unveiling a female healing tradition in Minoan Crete»
Historical sources indicate that in antiquity gynaecology, obstetrics and paediatrics were
mainly a female domain of knowledge and practice. Recent scholarship has thus claimed that
the first two Hippocratic treatises to be written (5th c. BC), which deal with women’s health
issues and are the earliest medical texts in the West, originated in an older female oral
tradition; a consistent claim that has so far remained unattended.
Through anthropological and comparative approaches to the age-old skill of midwifery, this
paper brings to light evidence for a female healing tradition in Minoan Crete likely related to
the cult of Eileithyia, challenging the long-held assumption that the dawn of Western medicine
was primarily a male epistemological achievement.