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Istanbul: Exhibition on the Art of Healing in Byzantium

byzantine-exhibitionHippocrates’ famous aphorism “Life is short, Art Long” The Art of Healing in Byzantium, is the title of a new exhibition to be presented at Pera Museum in Istanbul, focusing on the art and practice of healing in Byzantium from Roman times to the late Byzantine period.

The exhibition, curated by Dr. Brigitte Pitarakis, examines the faith, magic and rational medicine as healing methods. It follows the “art of healing” as it was established by ancient Greek healers Apollo and Asclepius, to the founders of rational medicine, Hippocrates and Dioscorides, while also examining the role of physician saints. The exhibition includes icons, reliquaries and amulets, marble inscriptions, medical equipment, plants and herbs, as well as medicinal and botanical manuscripts.

According to Pera Museum, the exhibition reveals that “the belief that illnesses were primarily caused by demons co-existed alongside a rational understanding of health and medicine based on the teachings of Hippocrates. The ‘art of healing’ was practiced by physicians, saints, and magicians and involved practices ranging from surgery to daily cleansing of the body and the spirit to exorcism and the veneration of saints.”

The exhibition will open its doors to the public from February 11 to April 26. The artifacts included in the exhibition are a loan from various museums around the world, such as the Archaeological Museums of Istanbul, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, the library of the Holy Trinity Monastery of Halki, the Foundation of the Yenikoy Greek Orthodox Church of Panayia and School, the Rezan Has Museum, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford, Oxford University Herbaria, the Benaki Museum in Athens, the Kastoria Byzantine Museum, and several private collections.

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