Nothing New under the Sun: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders in the Ancient World

in Early Science and Medicine
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Herodotus’ account of the Athenian spear carrier Epizelus’ psychogenic mutism following the Marathon Wars is usually cited as the first documented account of post-traumatic stress disorders in historical literature. This paper describes much earlier accounts of post combat disorders that were recorded as occurring in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) during the Assyrian dynasty (1300–609 bc). The descriptions in this paper include many symptoms of what we would now identify in current diagnostic classification systems as post-traumatic stress disorders, including flashbacks, sleep disturbance and low mood. The Mesopotamians explain the disorder in terms of spirit affliction; the spirit of those enemies whom the patient had killed during battle causing the symptoms.

Nothing New under the Sun: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders in the Ancient World

in Early Science and Medicine




BottéroEveryday Life164.


OppenheimAncient Mesopotamia294.


ScurlockMagico-Medical Means24.


Scurlock Magico-Medical Means192.


Scurlock and AndersenDiagnoses345.


ContenauEveryday Life141.


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Scurlock and AndersenDiagnoses351.


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Scurlock and AndersenDiagnoses429.


Scurlock and AndersenDiagnoses438.


Scurlock and AndersenDiagnoses438. See P.J. Brown and J. Wolfe “Substance Abuse and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Comorbidity” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 35 (1994) 51–59.


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