Archeological
Archeological

Tools for bloodletting and piercing

As mentioned in chapter 48, entitled “Characteristics of skeleton” in the book ’’Lunar King for Medicine and External Therapy” (Somaraja), “Different illness roots are shown on the peak of the eastern Azud mountain, seeing, asking, touching are on the peak of the Southern Gunesh mountain, tonic prescription is on the peak of the Western Avari mountain, and different kinds of healing methods are on the peak of the Northern Shid azud mountain”. The book was written in the “Utaa Five Mountain” thereby, the book is considered to have originated in the Southern part of China. At that time, the territory to the South of Utaa Mountain was inhabited by ancient nomads, ancestors of today’s Mongols. Therefore, the early Mongolian medical treatment was mentioned in “Lunar King for Medicine and External Therapy”. It was expressed as the following: “Different kinds of treatments are shown on the top of Northern Shid Mountain.

In 1989, Chinese Inner Mongolian researcher Banchinjav noted that there was written, systematic knowledge of bone damage, a special treatment method “Outer wound of bone” was used by ancestors of some northern nations, such as Mongolians, in ’’Lunar King for Medicine and External Therapy”, the oldest written source in the history of medicine within the territory of China. Generally, manual and tool treatments were well suited for nomadic lifestyle. Another fact found in prehistoric recordings is that early Mongolians would bum artemisia and cauterize with stones or have the ill patient lie on burning grass. Also, they would bleed aching areas of the body. Studying these records, Ts.Shagdarsuren established that they were the earliest medical records connected with the history of medicine in Mongolia. Treatment methods were developed from generation to generation and were first recorded in “Prescription used by Sartiiul” (Hui Hui Yao Fang) during the period of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Chinese Inner Mongolian researcher B. Jigmed noted that the sutra, “Prescription used by Sartuul”, was written on the basis of medical experiences gained from Arabia, Sartuul and some Northern Nomadic Nations. Volume 34 of “Prescriptions used by Sartuul” wholly describes different kinds of injuries and classifies them into the following various classes: injuries caused by metal instruments, bone fractures, bums, injuries caused by mallets or similar instruments, as well as dental decay. Furthermore, each class is characterized precisely. The metal instrument caused injuries class is divided further into subsidiary categories such as wounds from knives and arrows. Also, some subsidiary classes such as class of injuries produced in the result of extracting an arrow from a body, class of bone setting, class of joint dislocation, class of outer injuries, class of fire bums, class of burn decay, class of mallet or similar instrument caused injuries, and class of dental decay exist as well. Diagnosing, treating, and prescribing appropriate medicines or medicinal ointments for each case were described in detail.

Piercing was originally used to treat animals but eventually, as it became more sophisticated, it was used for the treatment of people. This report refers to the tradition called “basis for piercing used by Dalch Mongolians” in “Biography of the Elder and Younger Yutok Yonten Gonpo”. During the period of the second Dharma King of the Tisrondezan, the First International Medical Conference was held. Masters from India, China, Nepal, Li (Sartuul), Tibet, Mongolia, Kashmir, Tugu (a Kingdom that used to be on the northern part of former Tibet and on the bordering area of today’s Blue Lake and Shinjan in China) and Dolbo participated in the conference and had a dispute with the great doctor of Tibet, elderly Yutok Yonten Gonpo (708-833)

In Mongolia they established the root of bloodletting. Biography of the Elder and Younger Yutok Yonten Gonpo. 17,b century
In Mongolia they established the root of bloodletting. Biography of the Elder and Younger Yutok Yonten Gonpo. 17,b century

the examination of the urine, in Sakhor in cupping with a horn, in Kesar in healing by means of mantras, in Shanshung in curing by purging, in Uddiyana by vomiting, and in Tibet by the four remedies. The Bon-po system lays the greatest stress on curing by means of heating, balneology, and the use of ointments ….

The word “root” means ‘jud’ in Tibetan, but sudar or dandar in Sanskrit. It can be translated into Mongolian as “sutra” or “traditional book”. Unfortunately, the sources written by the Dalch Mongolian doctors haven’t been updated. However, because the events mentioned in the book “Biography of the Elder and Younger Yutok Yonten Gonpo” took place in the VIII century, the questions about sutras of different countries must have referred to medical texts or recordings from an earlier period. Therefore, it is important for us to determine when the book about bloodletting was written. Hunnus, the early ancestors of Mongolians, established their first state in 209 B.C.E. and flourished until the first century C.E. From the Hunnu period, Indian and Iranian civilizations started to influence Mongolian nomads, subsequently overtaking the influence of the Chinese civilization. Thereby, Hunnu’s culture is not only considered to be foundation of the Mongolian culture but also is common in many ways. Among the sedentary population of the Hunnu, common culture (particularly medical arts and healing) thrived, and, thanks to its cultural influence the legendary Tibetan doctor Yutok Yonten Gonpo came upon the book ‘basis for bloodletting therapy’ written by nomads. He mentioned the book as a historical fact of nomads’ medical achievement. However, the Hunnu have been shown to have their own literacy by some researchers such as G.Sukhbaatar (2000), L.Bold (2001) and L.Chuluunbaatar (2002), adding great interest to the original language of the book. As a primary historical source and archeological findings play an important part in not only the study of prehistoric remains, but also in the investigation of unrecorded historical events and cultural features even after the Middle Ages. Hence, we attempt to prove the above mentioned medical records using archeological findings. In the early times of human life, people created simple tools to survive the difficult natural conditions and to simplify labor. For instance, needles (some of them were made of stone) were first equally used for sewing clothes and puncturing the human body (Pictures 2, 3). Eventually, their medical usage was discovered leading to the design of a special medical needle. In 1963, the first needle was excavated from the Paleolithic period, found in burial grounds in Dolonnuur, Inner Mongolia. Soon after, another bronze needle from the Hunnu period was located in Ikh Zuu Province. Both were identified to be needles specifically designed for medical usage. In 2001, members of a Mongolian-Russian Central Asian expedition excavated a 7.6 cm long, 3 mm thick bronze awl with a carved handle in the territory of Munkh Khairkhan soum (same as village), Khovd Province (D.Erdenebaatar, A.A.Kovalev 2004) After discussing with According to some researchers, metal, silver and golden needles were first used long after the bloodletting therapy was initiated. These findings (needles and an awl) could prove that early nomads used needle therapy. The above mentioned metal needles, stone scraper and other stone tools displayed in the National History Museum of Mongolia, are the same size and shape as ‘Bian stone’ displayed in the Museum of the University of Chinese Medicine in Beijing, and the stone needle of the New Paleolithic Age found in Dolonnuur, Inner Mongolia. Other interesting artifacts were discovered around Bugat town, Inner Mongolia, including 2.3-10.5 cm long needles made of bone. The needles were of different shapes, either flat or round, and some of them had no eye. B. Uul, Inner Mongolian researcher, suggested they were medical needles used in the New Stone Age. A skeleton of a 1.20 m tall 15 year old girl was found in a burial ground dating back to the 4th – 3rd millennium C.E. Over 200 pearls, 20 deer fang decorated items, a sharp pointed bone needle which was placed inside bone marrow, and two bone knives up to 20 cm long, with a width of 2.5 cm were buried with the body (History of Mongolia. Volume I, page 90). Other similar findings were excavated from the Hunnu’s burial ground in Burkhan Tolgoi, Bulgan Province, as well as from burials of the Bronze and Medieval Ages. The needle unearthed from Elst Khutul’s burial was 7.8 cm long, 0.3 cm wide and 0.1 cm thick with a flat rectangular end. Interestingly, the size matches that of a needle found in Bugat, Inner Mongolia. Comparing this needle with the one which is being kept in the Museum of the University of Chinese Medicine in Beijing (audio and video teaching material “Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion” Beijing, 1991), we concluded that the former was used for medical purposes (Picture 5).

Mongolian archeologist D.Navaan wrote: “Among Stone and Bronze Age archeological findings there were some primitive tools such as mortar, pestle, different kinds of scrapers and sharp edged arrowheads. Various rectangular shaped small stone tools, awls with sharp and blunt tips found in New Paleolithic or Bronze Age burials might have been used for the piercing”. Since 1866, when Arman David13 found a flint arrowhead, foreign and domestic researchers have found tools such as spears, arrowheads, awls, adzes, chisels, etc., from the territories of almost all provinces. From the late Old Stone Age, labor tools became more sophisticated and stone tools for cutting and piercing, as well as needles and buttons made of animal bone and hom, started to be utilized for daily life. Needle therapy (acupuncture) originated during the Stone Age. Initially stone needles were used for needle therapy, but, afterwards, metal needles were more commonly used. Originally, the stone tools were used for various purposes including cutting, slicing, piercing and stinging. In other words, there were no clear distinctions between medical and home gadgets, although progressively special tools for particular purposes soon appeared. Except needle treatment related archeological findings, other tools connected with pharmaceutical development have been found within the territories of Mongolia. For instance, many bone sticks with spoon heads were found from burial grounds in Burkhan Tolgoi, Bulgan Province. Our archeologists identified and called them “sticks with spoon heads” but haven’t determined their usage. The Russian archeologist P.B. Konovalov wrote the following in “XyHHy b 3a6afiKajibe” (1976): “Wooden sticks and spoons are found in abundance from the burials in Umov and Cheremuhov ravines in Burayd, Russia. Studying the spoons U.D.Talko-Grintsevich concluded that they were used to measure out medicinal doses of medicine by Mongolian lamas. Also, S.I.Rudenko agreed with U.D.Talko- Grintsevich and called them medicinal spoons (jieKapc’TBeiiHwe jiovkcmkh in Russian)”. Based on archeologists’ suggestions, we compared the sticks with spoon heads and bone sticks and spoons found from Ilmov and Cheremuhov ravines (Picture 6). The size and shape of the spoons, as well as the archeological periods in which they originated from were similar. Therefore, we are emphasizing that the spoons could have been used to measure out the doses as well.

Medicinal spoon. Burkhan Tolgoi, Bulgan Province. Mongolia. Hunnu period
Medicinal spoon. Burkhan Tolgoi, Bulgan Province. Mongolia. Hunnu period

In conclusion, early ancestors of Mongolians have used blood letting since the Stone Age, and, later in the Hunnu period, they wrote a book called “bloodletting basis for getting the illness out” which became popular among China and Tibet. Hence, we are implying that it is proper to include the history of medical knowledge, and medical art development from the New Stone Age.

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