Galen was born in 129 AD in Pergamon, now in Turkey. Galen began to study medicine at the age of 16, after his father had a dream in which he was told to make his son a physician.
Galen was the first physician to draw from the fields of philosophy and medicine to treat his patients. Combining his own discoveries and those of physicians before him, he developed a medical doctrine that dominated Europe and the Middle East for 15 centuries!
Galen believed that the best way to learn about medicine was through anatomy. Since human dissection was banned, he performed dissections on monkeys and pigs. His theories were not always correct. He proved that arteries and veins carried blood but believed that blood was made in the liver. He advocated the routine use of bloodletting to treat patients. In some cases this led to the death of the patient! Despite his flawed anatomical research, he was very influential and continued as the personal physician to three Roman emperors. He compiled and consolidated his research and was a prolific writer, which is why we know so much about him.
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