Gaia Center maps Hippocratic medicine through the ages

The Goulandris Natural History Museum’s Gaia Center in the northern suburb of Kifissia recently inaugurated an exhibition titled “Hippocratic Medicine Through the Ages,” showcasing the plants and flowers that have contributed toward healing over the centuries.

The exhibition comprises texts and photographs mapping the history of ancient Greek medicine. It is complemented by paintings of plants and copies of drawings from the 512 BC encyclopedia by Greek botanist, pharmacologist and physician Pedanius Dioscorides, “De Materia Medica,” a five-volume pharmacopeia whose original is housed in the Austrian National Library in Vienna.

Taking place at a time when the crisis has made something of a necessity as well as a trend out of organic farming, allotment farming, home remedies and affordable treatments, the exhibition gains additional poignancy.

Scattered among the displays of plants and flowers are copies of statues of Hippocrates, Asclepius, Hygeia, Podalirius and other figures from history or mythology famed for their powers of healing or their contribution to modern medicine. There are also original manuscripts on Hippocrates, including the famed Hippocratic Corpus of 1538, ancient coins depicting medical themes, 3rd-century AD surgical tools, and medals and paintings depicting Hippocrates.

Special emphasis is placed on the paintings of plants and herbs featured in the writings of Hippocrates and Dioscorides by Niki Goulandri, as well as oil paintings of pharmaceutical plants by 74 young artists.

The exhibition runs through June 20 and will then travel to the eastern Aegean island of Kos, home of the International Hippocratic Foundation and the Hippocratic Botanical Garden.

The Athens exhibition will also be augmented with lectures by Greek and foreign specialists on ancient Greek medicine and the use of plants in modern pharmacology, aromatherapy and cosmetics.


Goulandris Natural History Museum, 100 Othonos, Kifissia, tel 210.801.5870. The Gaia Center is open Mondays to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m to 2.30 p.m.