Category Archives: World Languages and Cultures

Medicine in the Late Middle Ages– Yuchen

Continuing from my last blog post on medicine during the High Middle Ages, this blog post still follows the similar format, covering medicine during the Late Middle Ages in Europe, the Middle East and China. While doing my research, I was surprised by the extent of which Islamic Medicine influenced Western medicine. Therefore, a significant portion of this blog post is about medicine in the Middle East.

Late Middle Ages


As a lasting influence of the Crusades, trade and communication between the European world and the Middle East increased drastically. The wisdom of Islamic medicine (the science as well as the philosophies) from translated medical texts was incorporated into mainstream Western medicine.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 22.35.13

Flagellants in the Netherlands scourging themselves in atonement, believing that the Black Death is a punishment from God for their sins, 1349.

Despite various advances achieved earlier in the High Middle Ages, in the year 1347, Europe was heavily struck by the deadly disease: the Black Death (or the bubonic plague). Spread by infected flea, this deadly contagious disease wiped out more than half of the European population. One contributing factor to the spread of the disease was the unsanitary condition of medieval cities– a cause that was not well-understood by doctors at that time, resulting in ineffective treatments such as diet modification, usage of essential oils and prescription of elixirs attempting to cure the contagious disease. Because of the lack of medical understanding of the disease, people panicked and turned to religion. (Medical)


Middle East–

Medicine in the Islamic world continued to develop and expand, making significant contributions to the field of medicine during the Islamic Golden Age.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 22.13.46

Imaginary Portrait of Ibn Al-Nafis

Ibn Al-Nafis, an Arab physician, is considered “the Father of Circulation/ Circulatory Physiology for his important writings and anatomical discoveries. In his most famous book– Sharah al Tahreeh al Qanoon (Commentary on anatomy of the Canon of Avicenna), he made detailed description of the pulmonary circulation of blood which  contradicted Galen’s widely accepted description that the blood is passed from the left to the right ventricle through invisible pores in the septum.

Ibn Al-Nafis believed that the blood flows from the right ventricle through the pulmonary artery to the lungs, then flows through the pulmonary vein to reach the left ventricle. His pioneering discovery contributed to later development in the understanding of the circulatory system and was 300 years before the observation of William Harvey in Europe, who had previously been credited with the discovery of pulmonary circulation. (Akmal)(“Ibn”)

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 22.14.11

Galen’s Cardiopulmonary System

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 22.14.51

Explanatory Drawing of Ibn Al-Naifs of Pulmonary Circulation of Blood













A large number of Bimaristans, or hospitals, were built in Islamic cities. Surgeries such as those to remove cataracts and treat trachoma, cauterization as well as various sutures were frequently performed. The structure and concepts of these hospitals closely resemble those of modern hospitals, having separate wards for males and females, an organized system of medical records as well as standard protocols for institutional and personal hygiene (Majeed). Medieval Islamic doctors also went above and beyond merely treating the physical. General wellness and dermatology were given considerable attention. Bathing culture continued to be an essential component of people’s social life and an important contributing factor to the improvement of general hygiene. (Williams)



Under the umbrella of the Song Dynasty, Chinese medicine continued to thrive, making new progress, especially in the fields of pediatrics and gynecology. At the same time, exchange of medical knowledge between the East and West reached its peak. Medical texts and materials from Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia and the Middle East were frequently exchanged via trade routes, resulting in the incorporation of foreign knowledge and practices into Traditional Chinese Medicine and the other medical traditions’ adoption of Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. (“神农氏”)

In Islamic Medicine, herbal drugs imported from China via the Silk Road were frequently prescribed to patients.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 22.30.13

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 22.30.30

This article explores in-depth the interactions between several traditions of medicine such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine, Ayurveda and Kampo–tradition of medicine with basis in Traditional Chinese Medicine but adapted to Japanese culture (Azaizeh).

This temporarily concludes my research on medieval medicine in three representative regions. Overall, medieval medicine in Europe experienced a stagnant state during the Dark Ages and revitalized during the High Middle Ages before being heavily struck by the Plague, while Islamic and Chinese medicine were able to develop under relative stability and prosperity.

In the next blog post, I will look at medicine during the Renaissance era, specifically the influence of the arrival of the printing press on publication of medical texts in Europe and the decline of the Islamic Golden Age.

This video is about Ibn Al-Nafis, the forgotten physician mentioned previously in my blog post. The rediscovery of his manuscript describing pulmonary circulation strengthened my belief that history is never a static field of study. It is constantly updated by new and surprising discoveries.


Works Cited

Akmal, M., et al. “IBN NAFIS – A FORGOTTEN GENIUS IN THE DISCOVERY OF PULMONARY BLOOD CIRCULATION.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health,

Azaizeh, Hassan, et al. “Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine, a Re-emerging Health Aid.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health,

Beeden, Alexandra, et al., editors. The Definitive Illustrated History. New York, DK, 2016.

Bivins, Roberta E. Alternative Medicine?: A History. E-book, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2010.

D., Mitchell P., et al. “Anatomy and Surgery in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages.” Apollo- University of Cambridge Repository,

Goldiner, Sigrid, editor. “Medicine in the Middle Ages.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jan. 2000,

Keys, Thomas E. “The Earliest Medical Books Printed with Movable Type: A Review.” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, vol. 10, no. 2, 1940, pp. 220–230. JSTOR,

“Late Medieval and Early Modern Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine,

M, Loukas, et al. “Ibn al-Nafis (1210-1288): the first description of the pulmonary circulation.” US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health,

Majeed, Azeem. “How Islam changed medicine Arab physicians and scholars laid the basis for medical practice in Europe.” S National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 24 Dec. 2015,

Medical News Today Editorial Team, and Daniel Murrell, editors. “What is European Medieval & Renaissance Medicine?” Medical News Today, Healthline Media UK, Accessed 5 Jan. 2016.

Palleja De Bustinza, Victor. “How Early Islamic Science Advanced Medicine.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society,

Ranhel, André Silva, and Evandro Tinoco Mesquita. “The Middle Ages Contributions to Cardiovascular Medicine.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Apr. 2016,

“Silk Road.” Encyclopedia Britannica,

Siraisi, Nancy G. History, Medicine and the Traditions of Renaissance Learning. E-book, U of Michigan P, 2010.

Williams, Elizabeth. “Baths and Bathing Culture in the Middle East: The Hammam.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2012)

Wood, Clair G. “A History of Healing Therapies: Western, Eastern and Alternative Approaches.” Bibliographic Essay, PDF ed.

“神农氏” [“Shen Nong”]. 神农, June 2003,


“Explanatory Drawing of Ibn Nafis.” Muslim Heritage,

“Flagellants in the Netherlands Scourging Themselves in Atonement.” Britannica,

“Galen’s Cardiopulmonary System.” Muslim Heritage,

“Imaginary Portait of Ibn Al-Nafis.” Muslim Heritage,

“Section of the Arab Text from the Commentary on Anatomy in Avicenna’s Canon by Ibn Al-Nafis.” Muslim Heritage,

“Trade Caravans on the Silk Road.”


“Ibn al-Nafis ابن النفيس – the Medical Genius who the world forgot.” Youtube, uploaded by ILM FILM,


The fate of all the other Shimenkans- Perline

For this last blog post, I want to trace back to the beginning of my project and think about the future for China’s reconstruction plan for impoverished areas.

One of the initial reasons why I conducted this research project is that I felt a loss of identity after continuing my education in America for several years. I remember feeling a loss of connection to the city I grew up in, and I realized that I was forgetting the culture I was born into. Trying to remember and reconnect with my culture, I decided to conduct an independent research project on Shimenkan. Growing up in Kunming in an upper-middle-class family, my life was confined to a small circle. My research project would allow me to learn more about contemporary Chinese politics and the socioeconomic diversity of my province. Continue reading

Investigative research in Uruguay- Peirce

Over Thanksgiving break I did some of my own research, in an attempt to find some historical connections between government, soccer, and politics in South America. Using information from the corruption I learned about Argentina, I searched online for similar topics, but rather than in the late 20th century, the early 20th century. I had no luck with obvious stories because there simply wasn’t as much media coverage on soccer during that time. Continue reading

What happened recently in my project -Qiaochu

In my last blog, I will talk about the progress I have made in my project in the past few weeks and share the future prospect of my project.
The past few weeks, a new member, Komeli, joined the Chester County China Initiative team. He has stayed in Beijing for 7 years and has learned mandarin during this stay. After graduating from Tsinghua University in 2013, Komeli started an international trade company. Continue reading

Reflection blog – Perline

During my summer trips to Shimenkan, I was able to explore and view the current state of the village from my own perspective. The experience was definitely special and seeing the actual village made it easier to learn about the history. For a large portion of the semester, I’ve been studying the history of Shimenkan and I explored topics like poverty, the value of charity, charity and more. Continue reading

Researching AFA(Asociación de Futból Argentino) corruption – Peirce

This week to open up corruption in South America I did some investigating on some of the biggest, most powerful, and well known officials and leaders in soccer. I came across a man named Julio Grondona, the late former president of soccer in Argentina. Grondona died in 2011, marked as a sad day in Argentinian soccer across the world. Two of the most recognizable Argentinian world soccer stars of all time, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, spoke about the greatness of Grondona for Argentinian soccer’s growth and well being, as well as wishing his family and friends well in their time of mourning. Continue reading

Negocios y Emoción – Peirce

Before making the subject switch from Spain to South America, Dan and I spent this week reading and discussing soccer in the world and the effects of globalization on modern soccer. We used two different chapters from Goles y banderas: futbol e identidades nacionales en España by Alejandro Quiroga Fernandez de Soto, the same book we used to discuss identities in Spain. Continue reading

Identities in Spanish soccer and culture, conclusions of study in Spain – Peirce

For our last week of studying Spanish soccer and culture, T.Dan and I read and discussed two different chapters from a book discussing soccer identities in both Catalonia and País Vasco. Goles y banderas: futbol e identidades nacionales en España by Alejandro quiroga fernandez de soto, is the name of the book, written entirely in Spanish. Continue reading

One’s value – Perline

With no doubt, the work Pollard did had a lasting impact on the community of Shimenkan. The village of Shimenkan would still be poor and isolated without Pollard’s influence from the last century. The major reason why the Chinese government invested so much money on this village is to control the Christian influence. As a way to show power, the government used the money in building infrastructure to show the villagers that the government can bring a better life than Christianity. Continue reading

More in depth research on Catalonia – Peirce

In the week of October 2nd after my teaching experience, T.Dan and I could not ignore the events in Catalonia surrounding the referendum for independence. I did my own research on the subject, bringing articles to Dan for discussion. There were a plethora of things to talk about, including the Spanish police’s acts of violence in attempts to stop people from voting, as well as how likely is it that Catalonia will ultimately declare independence. If you are unaware of the situation currently in Catalonia, I will give a brief synopsis before diving into the significance of it as well as my conclusions on how it relates to soccer.

On October 1st polls were opened in the region of Catalonia for its citizens to vote on whether they were for or against declaring independence from Spain. The Spanish government and its officials have rules this referendum illegal and against the Spanish constitution. On the day of the referendum many Catalan citizens were violently prevented from voting by the Spanish police force. Many leaders in the Catalan government were also arrested by the Spanish police.

In the following days many different officials on both sides have reported on the referendum, Spain maintaining their stance that it is illegal and will not be acknowledged. Catalan people and government officials have pleaded with other European countries as well as the EU for support in their fight for independence. The reported statistic on the vote count was 90% of people able to vote, voting for independence, and 10% against.

It is clear that the Catalan identity is strong throughout the whole region and now more than ever, the Catalan people are proudly fighting for their cultural, economic, and regional independence. The aftermath of the October 1st vote date has been sticky, and yet to be resolved. So it is hard to say how significant the referendum is yet, but regardless of the outcome, it is clear that Catalonia is its own country, recognized or not.

The police violence against voters was horrific, rubber bullets and excessive force were used during large pro independence rallies. 822 Catalonians were placed in the hospital from the violence. Using both Spanish sources and sources around the world to understand the reaction of this violence was fascinating. A CNBC article quoted Jordi Turull, a Catalan official as saying, “what the police are doing is simply savage, it’s an international scandal.” While Spanish sources based in Madrid have shown a different light, ignoring the police violence and focusing on the breach of the Spanish constitution.

While this was big international news and unignorable, it was less significant to our study of soccer and more to the world that soccer lives in. As a result of this referendum and violence FC Barcelona played their La Ligament match against Las Palmas in front of an empty stadium.

In the interest of getting back on track with our study of soccer, Dan and I planned readings for the following week in a book from the library about identities of both FC Barcelona and Atheltic Club Bilbao. Barcelona’s identity is strong and only getting stronger, and the historical context of the biggest representation of the region in the world, FC Barcelona, is one Dan and I were excited to explore.