Heritage Times

Exploring lesser known History


The early medical system of the Ottman society

The border of the Ottoman Empire outstretched across three continents and extended over different climatic zones. The distinct disorders that people suffered depended on the difference in the geographical distribution. Therefore, their medical systems varied greatly from area to area and hinged on to the culture and scientific research.

The Bulgarian hospital, Istanbul.

Medicine in the Ottoman Empire can trace its roots back to the Greeks and such famous physicians as Hippocrates, Galen and Discoride.

Hospital for the poor and orphans in Çankırı, 1894.

Many different systems of medicine were rehearsed in different region. They were the religious medicine called “prophetic medicine”, the “mechanistic humoral medicine” which was inherited from Greek antiquity. Another very distinct therapeutic method includes the “music therapy” to treat various typed of psychological illnesses.


Groundbreaking Ceremony of an Ottoman Hospital in Iskenderun, 1890s

The historical “darüşşifa” (hospital in Turkish) in Sultan Beyazid II Social Complex in the northwestern province Edirne was famous for alternative treatment methods from the 15th to 19th centuries. Alongside water, sound and scent therapies, Ottoman physicians used music to treat their patients.

The Ottoman Empire has shown us how their societies exhibited the contemporary approach to illness and disease. Their hospitals demonstrate the early modern period in the field of medicine. They built several hospitals dedicated solely for the poor, women, children, and mentally challenged individuals of their territory.

An Ottoman Hospital in Dedeagach (Alexandroupoli, Greece), 1899

The Ottoman government initiated several reforms in the medical services and articulated it to the new public sanitation regulations.

An Ottoman Hospital in Bolu, 1900s

During the Balkan war (1912-1913) infectious diseases such as cholera, smallpox, and typhus caused massive suffering and deaths among its soldiers. The army died of these deadly infections rather than the bullets.

Ottoman Women’s Hospital, Istanbul, 1890s

So, the ministries of war and health worked together to publish an instructional manual, listing precautionary measures and sanitary guidelines to educate the public about the transmission and dangers of typhus.

An Ottoman Hospital in Ordu, 1895

Apart from the health policies the X-ray was also added to Ottoman medicine by Esad Feyzi. A year later he installed a Roentgen device in Istanbul and took x ray of the wounded soldiers to check the embedded bullets.

The decision of the Council of Ministers to give one thousand Ottoman liras as a contribution to the Yedikule Armenian Hospital, May 31, 1916.

European travellers reported the high level of hygiene in the Ottoman world. Ottoman medicine in the mid-nineteenth century also developed institutions for preventative medicine and public health.

An Ottoman military hospital in Edirne, 1894
Hamidiye Hospital in Urfa, 1906
An Ottoman military hospital in Erzincan, 1890’s.
Ottoman Hospital in Kastamonu, 1900s
An Ottoman Hospital in Afyonkarahisar, 1900s
Hamidiyah Hospital, Bursa 1906s
An Ottoman Hospital in Dedeagach (Alexandroupoli, Greece), 1899
An Ottoman Hospital in Monastir (Bitola, Macedonia), 1900s
An Ottoman Hospital in Samsun, 1902
Opening Ceremony of an Ottoman Hospital in Jaffa, Palestine, 1900s
Photograph showing nurses standing in a window-lined corridor of the surgery building at Haseki Women’s Hospital, Istanbul, ca. 1914–1924.
View of an operation on the patient Hüseyin at Haseki Women’s Hospital, Istanbul, ca. 1903–1907.
Group portrait of Haseki Women’s Hospital’s medical staff, ca. 1893. Dr. Ahmed Nurettin is third from right, front row.
Ottoman Doctors During an Operation, 1895
Ottoman Hospital, Aleppo‬⁩ , ⁦‪Syria‬⁩
An Ottoman Hospital in İskenderun, 1900s

Photo Source: Ottoman Imperial Archive

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Dr. Zareen Fatima

Dr Zareen is an ambitious general dentist working and residing in UAE. She is able to handle multiple tasks on a daily basis. Alongside her busy work schedule, she is a vivid reader, researcher, writer editor and is currently pursuing Masters in Public Health. In her leisure she brings out the forgotten history in the field of medicine and associated disciplines.