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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 24(1); 2015 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2015;24(1): 67-109.
doi: https://doi.org/10.13081/kjmh.2015.24.67
한제국(漢帝國) 하서(河西) 변경 사졸(士卒) 들의 질병과 치료: 거연(居延), 돈황(敦煌) 출토 간독(簡牘)자료를 중심으로
The Disease and Treatment of the Frontline Soldiers in Han Dynasty
Hookie Min
Institute of Media Arts, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea. minhooki@hanmail.net
Received: March 12, 2015;  Accepted: April 13, 2015.  Published online: April 30, 2015.
This paper purports to identify and analyze the medical information of the frontline soldiers in the Northwest borderland provinces of Han Dynasty, especially Juyan and Dunhuang region, through an heuristic reading of the Juyan Bamboo Slips and the Dunhuang Bamboo Slips of the Han Dynasty. My findings are as follows. The most frequent disease found in the bamboo slips was the external injury. The injury of the frontline soldiers mainly occurred from the quarrels among armed soldiers using weapons. The bamboo slips also demonstrate that the quarrels usually arose due to the fierce tension caused by the frontier line service such as heavy guard activity and labour duty. Undernourishment and chronic stress the soldiers suffered might be another reasons. The second most common disease harassing the soldiers was exogenous febrile disease. In most cases reviewed in this paper, the exogenous febrile disease was usually concurrent with complex symptoms such as chills, fever, headache, etc. The bamboo slips show that the exogenous febrile disease was related to the harsh climate of the Northwest provinces, featuring extremely dry weather and the large magnitude of diurnal temperature fluctuations. In addition, the annual temperature range in the Northwest province was huge, fluctuating between very cold and dry winter and very hot and dry summer. The third most common disease this study identified was the disorder of the digestive system and respiratory system. However, these two types of disease were virtually indistinguishable in the bamboo slips, because the ancient Chinese chroniclers did not distinguish them, usually dubbing both diseases simply 'abdominal pain.' It should be mentioned that a few slips mention contagious disease such as dysentery and dermatolosis, and sudden death, as well. Overall, the bamboo slips demonstrate extremely poor status of the soldiers' heath condition and poor medical environment surrounding the soldiers stationing in the Northwest borderland military camps. The records also show that acupuncture, applying a plaster, drugs were the most common medical treatment. Drugs among them was the most frequently used. Whereas Acupuncture, applying a plaster were very rarely used. Medication has been used in three ways: powdered medicine, medicinal decoction and pill. Medicinal decoction was the most commonly used way.
Key Words: frontline soldier, disease, treatment, bamboo slip, Han dynasty
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