A medical center in the ancient world: Asklepion
The Asklepion of Kos is the sanctuary of Asclepius or Aesculapius, the god of medicine. These shrines were part of all the Greek cities and on Kos was among the most important in the ancient greek world. Brought to light in 1902 by the German archeologist Herzog, Asklepion is the most beautiful historical place of Kos. Unfortunately today has poor content as a result of natural disasters and wars that have destroyed most of the findings; but also because of the various foreign dominations over the centuries that cornered the various found objects to decorate their museums.
The Asklepion of Kos known throughout the world thanks to the fame of the greek physician Hippocrates and the presence of many other renowned doctors that practice in the high sanctuary of medicine. The sick, who came from far and near, presented themselves at the doors of the sanctuary pleading for help. And they allowed to enter only those who counted worthy after careful evaluation by the priests.
The First Terrace of The Asklepion of Kos
In the first terrace the foundations of the patients rooms can be seen . On the wall with niches exposed decorative statues, of which today, unfortunately, you can only see some busts. During the first three days in the Asklepion, the patients subjected to fasting and ritual washings. On the left side of the first terrace are the remains of the baths where it was practiced hydrotherapy.
Subsequently, the patient had to sacrifice an animal to God Asclepius, the act required to be eligible to Abaton. The place where you spent the night lying on the skin of a sacrificial victim. During the night Asclepius would appear in a dream to the patient and suggest him the treatment. It is plausible to believe that a person who was in a weak condition for the disease, left for three days fasting and sleeping on the ground covered only by the animal skin could manifest dreams and visions in general.
The Second Terrace
The Abaton is located on the second terrace on the left side while Excedera, the place where the priests were meeting, is located on the right side. The priests diagnosed the diseases by interpreting the dreams, talking with the patients and observing the physical symptoms. For the first time written medical records, diagnosis and prognosis.
The treatments offered in the hospital were based on healthy life in harmony with nature, water therapies, physical activity, diet, relaxation and recreation. They used in natural herbal medicine and practiced the simple interventions. But the decisive factor was that the patient seen and treated as a set of body and soul from the imbalance between the body and the mind.
Faith in God Asklepios gave hope for healing and believe in healing was the first step toward recovery. The sacredness of the place surrounded by statues and religious symbols intensified even more the suggestion of the patient. The second terrace are still visible the basics of the two altars to Apollo (the father) and Asklepio (the son) with some columns. Looking closely at both columns and the stairs you can see the original parts.
The Last Terrace
The last terrace was home to the great altar of Asklepio with the statue of the god of medicine with his daughters. The statue has not survived, but we know from the writings that was visible from the harbor of Kos. In this part of the site the natural energy is stronger as in other places. After the prohibition of the worship of Asklepio and with the introduction of Christianity built in place of the statue a Christian church. Today is still visible the altar.
A total number of Asklepions in the world was more than 300. But Asklepion on Kos Island was one of the largest and well-known of all. It dates to around 400 BC.