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Medieval medicine thought the four quarters of the moon and the place of the moon in the zodiac influenced health. It was used during the 1500s to determine the best times to purge, cup, bleed and bathe patients. These treatments intended to bring balance to the four humours and thereby restore health. The prognosticator has the signs of the zodiac, the man in the moon, and the months of the year engraved upon it. It was possibly created by a copper plate engraver more familiar with creating images in reverse. This seems likely because several numbers and phrases are engraved back to front, apparently by mistake. The prognosticator was used in conjunction with a small disk, now lost, representing the sun’s position in the sky.

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Glossary: bloodletting

Puncturing a vein in order to withdraw blood. A popular medical practice for over two thousand years. Bloodletting often involved withdrawing large quantities of blood in the belief that this would cure or prevent many illnesses and diseases. The practice has been abandoned for all but a few very specific conditions.

Glossary: prognosticator

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Glossary: classical and medieval medicine

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Glossary: perpetual calendar

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