Friday, March 10, 2017

Bill Schutt

Bill Schutt's new book is Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History. From his Q&A with NPR's Angus Chen:

I hadn't heard of the medicinal cannibalism you described in Europe, starting with the Ancient Greek physician Galen of Pergamon and continuing to the 20th century. That was one thing that really surprised me.

Yeah, especially given the Western taboo around cannibalism, which has been around since the time of the Greeks, to find out that for hundreds of years, for many countries in Europe, pretty much every body part you can think of was used to cure something or the other. That was a complete shock.

I don't even know where some of these [purported cures] came from. That blood was going to cure epilepsy or how human fat could cure skin diseases? The most interesting one to me was mummies, and I think that was a mistranslation. To the Arabs ... the word mumia meant this stuff they used to bind wounds and prep mummies. In the translations, the Europeans thought they meant real mummies had medicinal values, so they started...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue