Bethesda in Jerusalem and 2,000-year-old pills

From the feedback we have received from users of our latest CD, Jerusalem in the time of Christ, one of the pics you have found most illuminating is the new reconstruction drawing of a votive offering depicting the serpent god of healing, Asclepius, discovered at the Pools of Bethesda. These pools  are now known to have been part of an Asclepium – a temple to the snake god. The drawing, made especially for this production, reminds us how fitting it was that Jesus should expose the claims of this false god by healing the paralytic man in his centre of pagan healing.

This fact came home to us very forcefully recently when we visited the Asclepium in Pergamon (now Bergama) in Turkey. Galen, the great physician of antiquity, began his studies of medicine at this Asclepium in his home town.

The Altar to Asclepius with relief of snakes at Pergamum

As an aside, a most interesting paper was presented yesterday on ancient pills formulated according to the writings of Galen and other ancient physicians and discovered in a ship which was wrecked in 130 B.C. off the coast of Tuscany, Italy. The findings were presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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