Saturday, 28 January 2017

Surgical wisdom and Genghis Khan's Pax Mongolica.

2017 Jan 24. doi: 10.1111/ans.13813. [Epub ahead of print]



The unrivalled conquests of Genghis Khan (CE c.1162-1227) led to the establishment of the Greater Mongolian Empire. By 1279, the Mongol dynasty controlled a vast Empire which, for the first time in history, unified Europe and China via the famous Silk Road. The ensuing century of peace and stability is referred to by historians as the Pax Mongolica, which facilitated Europe's renaissance and remarkably contributed to the rise of modern medicine and surgery.


Secondary sources from published literature, primary sources from manuscripts and illustrations courtesy of universities, museum libraries and archives.


There is ample evidence detailing the Mongol Empire's power during the thirteenth century and the Silk Road's role as a vehicle of commercial, cultural and scientific exchange. Advances in medical knowledge and surgical skills were made in all parts of the Empire and exchanged from China to Constantinople and back. Prominent medical figures traversed these centres, and no doubt contributed to the spread of surgical science, including Rashid al-Din and Mansur Ibn Ilyas. Their works, it is argued, enriched the practice of surgery and may have indirectly ushered-in the rise of modern surgery in the early medical schools at Salerno, Bologna, Pavia, Oxford, Montpellier and Constantinople to name but a few.


The blossoming and diversification of medical and surgical knowledge was an integral part of the great cultural exchange facilitated by the Pax Mongolica. This enhanced surgical practice in China, Persia and Arabia, while coinciding with the renaissance of surgical teaching in Europe.


Genghis Khan; Mongolian Empire; Persia; Rashid al-Din; history of surgery