Who was the first person in your life to set eyes on you? Most likely it was a doctor. Doctors and medicine have existed since ancient times. Early Egyptian books contain directions for setting fractures, and X-rays of mummies reveal healed bones. Greeks may have been the first people to record their scientific research so that others could use it. They had medical centers where people went to be cured; they afterward offered sacrifices to the gods in thanks.
Diseases gradually began to be seen as natural, not supernatural, phenomena. The Greek physician Galen, who practiced in Rome, conducted studies whose results were used in Europe for the next 1,300 years. In Southwest Asia, the Arabs developed their own interests in medicine, especially in chemistry. The processes of distillation and sublimation for the purification of substances are Arabic in origin. Ibn-Sina (980-1037) wrote a work called the Canon of Medicine that was used in medical schools for centuries.
When the Muslims invaded Spain, they brought their scientific knowledge with them. Abu al-Qasim developed and documented surgical techniques in Cordoba, making it the medical equal of Cairo and Baghdad. From Spain, Greek and Middle Eastern medical science spread to other European centers of learning. Monks had preserved the old medical knowledge, and now, after combining the old medical knowledge with the new learning, medicine was taught at Italian universities. Farther north, young men began to study at the universities of Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge. These colleges are still well known for medical studies.