History and Goals

The Ancient Medicine Interdisciplinary Working Group was established in November 1980 during a conference held at the Institute of Medical History at the Free University of Berlin as a forum to exchange information on current research projects in the field of pre-modern medicine. Since 1981, the Working Group holds annual meetings at Johannes Gutenberg University (JGU) in Mainz.

For about twenty years, the organizational management was in the hands of Klaus-Dietrich Fischer and Werner F. Kümmel. Since 2011, Tanja Pommerening is the spokesperson of the Working Group.

The goal of the Working Group is to establish networks between researchers in the field of early medicine and to improve the subject’s visibility. The Working Group covers the full chronological and geographical range of pre-modern cultures. An emphasis is placed on the medicine of Ancient Greece and Rome as well as temporally and spatially close cultures of Ancient Near East and Egypt and its reception up the early modern period.

The exceptionally wide range of participants makes the Interdisciplinary Working Group internationally unique. Among the participants are medical doctors and pharmacists, scholars of the history of medicine and pharmacy, classical philology, ancient and mediaeval history, archaeology, Egyptology, Assyriology, Byzantine, Arab, German, and Medieval Latin studies, and the history of science. The Interdisciplinary Working Group is thus a much appreciated and highly international forum, which maintains the interdisciplinary dialogue.