Two thorns used for smallpox inoculation, Palestine, 1921

Made:
1921 in Europe
maker:
Unknown

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

2 thorns mounted on cardboard with photograph and information about their use by medicine men in smallpox epidemic to vaccinate patients in Dawaimeh, Palestine, 1921

Shaheen, a third generation medicine man, used peeled thorns as lancets to inoculate patients against smallpox. The thorn was used to spread the pus from a case of smallpox between the web of the thumb and forefinger on the right hand of the patient. Three small punctures were made to introduce smallpox into the body. The hand was then smelt by the patient as medicine men believed the vapours would doubly inoculate the patient. This method of inoculation was tested by medical officers who claimed Shaheen had a fifty per cent success rate. The framed thorns were presented by the Senior Medical Officer of the region where Shaheen practised in Dawaimeh, Palestine.

Details

Category:
Public Health & Hygiene
Object Number:
A657117
Materials:
glass and paper
type:
thorn
credit:
Senior Medical Officer

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