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Herophilus of Chalcedon (c. 330-260 BCE)

Herophilus of Chalcedon was a Greek physician. He practised in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, a centre of ancient learning. He and another Greek doctor, Erasistratus of Ceos (c. 315 - c. 240 BCE), pioneered human dissection for medical research. They may have also performed human vivisection with the support and patronage of Egyptian rulers, as they were allowed to experiment on the living bodies of criminals condemned to death.

Herophilus became known mostly for his anatomical works. These influenced later medical researchers such as Galen. However, he also developed a text on midwifery and an important system of pulse classification. The latter shaped diagnostic practice in ancient Greece and Rome.



J Rocca, ‘Herophilus of Chalcedon and Erasistratus of Ceos’, in W F Bynum and H Bynum (eds), Dictionary of Medical Biography, Vol. 3 (Westport and London: Greenwood Press, 2007), pp 637-9



The dissection of a live animal for experimental research.


A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.


The medical speciality for women who help during childbirth, as well as the period before and immediately afterwards.


The throbbing of the arteries as blood flows through them. The pulse matches the rate at which the heart is beating.