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History of iron and blacksmithing – from iron to steel

By |2019-02-21T20:12:37-07:00September 7th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

History of iron: a Greek black-figure vase showing a blacksmith at work (Athens, about 550 BC) Why do people use iron? The history of iron doesn't start until much later than bronze. Iron is harder to form into metal than copper or bronze, because it needs a much hotter fire and a more complicated process. What is [...]

What is yellow fever? – History of medicine

By |2019-03-28T12:19:12-07:00September 7th, 2017|Africa, Science|

Kids with yellow fever in Mississippi about 1870. See how all the people are white? The hospital wasn't letting black kids in, or hiring black women as nurses. Where did yellow fever get started? The virus that causes yellow fever probably evolved from an earlier virus that didn't make people sick. The first cases of [...]

What is typhus? History of diseases

By |2017-09-07T10:30:32-07:00September 7th, 2017|Science|

A woman with typhus Nobody seems to have caught typhus before about 1450 AD, so the disease probably didn't exist until then. Typhus is an infection caused by tiny germs (bacteria) that live inside animal cells, and most people caught the germs from lice, when the lice bit them (the lice die of typhus too). [...]

What is typhoid fever? History of diseases

By |2018-09-11T05:38:29-07:00September 7th, 2017|Science|

Typhoid fever: A person with typhoid rash (Iran) Is it typhoid or typhus? Typhoid fever isn't the same thing as typhus at all. You catch typhus from being bit by lice that have bitten people with typhoid, and you catch typhoid from drinking water with traces of human poop in it. (You can't catch typhoid from animals.) Find [...]

What is tuberculosis? History of diseases

By |2019-04-03T13:26:04-07:00September 7th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

A child with tuberculosis What is tuberculosis? Tuberculosis is a lung disease caused by germs. Today we can usually cure it with antibiotics. But in antiquity there was no cure. Many people died of tuberculosis. What are germs? What do your lungs do? More about diseases When did tuberculosis get going? One kind of tuberculosis seems [...]

What was smallpox? History of disease

By |2018-04-15T17:01:43-07:00September 7th, 2017|Central Asia, Science|

A baby with smallpox (from the CDC) Smallpox was a very serious disease caused by a virus. Many people died of it. Smallpox caused little bumps on your skin, like chickenpox but much more serious. About two to five of every ten people who got smallpox died of it. There was (and is still) [...]

What is opium? World history of medicine and drugs

By |2017-09-07T09:33:48-07:00September 7th, 2017|Central Asia, Science|

Opium poppy flower Opium comes from a kind of poppy flower. It evolved around 100 million years ago in West Asia and Central Asia. People probably realized as soon as they got to West Asia, about 60,000 years ago, that you could use opium as a medicine. By 6000 BC, in the Stone Age, West Asian farmers were already growing opium in their [...]

What is measles? History of diseases and medicine

By |2018-04-25T17:11:36-07:00September 7th, 2017|History, Science|

A kid with measles Measles is a sickness that first makes you feel sick, with a fever, a cough, and a runny nose. Then it gives you a rash all over your skin. It is caused by a virus, and you usually catch it by touching a person with measles, or touching something they [...]

What is malaria? History of diseases and medicine

By |2019-03-07T10:25:29-07:00September 7th, 2017|Africa, Science|

A baby with malaria (from World Health Organization) How do you get malaria? You catch malaria by being bitten by a mosquito that has malaria parasites living inside it. (Female mosquitoes bite people to get blood. That gives them enough energy to make baby mosquitoes.) Why do mosquitoes bite? All about insects Ancient diseases and [...]

Influenza – History of Medicine

By |2019-02-11T12:11:33-07:00September 6th, 2017|Science|

Influenza comes from chickens: this is a clay hen whistle from Mohenjo Daro (ca. 2700 BC, now in Brooklyn Museum) What is influenza? Influenza is a virus that mostly infects birds - like chickens - and pigs. But influenza can also attack people. Influenza history goes back a long, long time. Where do chickens come from? How about [...]