Friday, February 7, 2014

Historical book spotlight: Disability in Antiquity (1970)

Thanks to movies like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Aladdin, it is general popular knowledge that losing a hand was the go-to penal repercussion for theft in past times. Losing a hand or another limb would clearly lead to hardships- the individual would be disabled for life.

Disability in Antiquity (1970) is a book that looks back on the history of visible disabilities in the Middle East. While the author focuses less on the medical aspects of disabilities and more on "describing disabling conditions as they existed at that time (p.11)," emphasis is placed on the cultural environment that caused disabilities (such as communicable diseases spread through travel and trade, war injuries, and amputations and torture), as well as the reality of life for individuals with disabilities.

From the introduction (p. 13):
The purpose of this study is to determine the origins of visible disability in the Near East during the Arab caliphate from its inception at the death of Mohammed in A.D. 632, to its collapse in Baghdad in A.D. 1258. The study aims at examining the medical, social and juridical causes of disability, and the comparative significance of each disabling factor throughout the era under discussion. The investigator plans to achieve this purpose by examining and analyzing the problem of the origins of disability from the following angles. 1. Types of communicable diseases and their crippling effect. 2. Types and significance of war injuries. 3. Types of penal disability. 4. Disabilities of heredity and old age.

Call Number: WZ 70 JA2 H12d