Prehistoric medicine incorporated plants (herbalism), animal parts and minerals. In many cases these materials were used ritually as magical substances by priests, shamans, or medicine men. Well-known spiritual systems include animism (the notion of inanimate objects having spirits), spiritualism (an appeal to gods or communion with ancestor spirits); shamanism (the vesting of an individual with mystic powers); and divination (magically obtaining the truth). The field of medical anthropology studies the various prehistoric medical systems and their interaction with society.
Early records on medicine have been discovered from early Ayurvedic medicine in the Indian subcontinent, ancient Egyptian medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, the Americas, and ancient Greek medicine. Early Grecian doctors Hippocrates, who is also called the Father of Modern Medicine, and Galen laid a foundation for later developments in a rational approach to medicine. After the fall of Rome and the onset of the Dark Ages, Islamic physicians made major medical breakthroughs, supported by the translation of Hippocrates' and Galen's works into Arabic. Notable Islamic medical pioneers include polymath Avicenna, who is also called the Father of Modern Medicine, Abulcasis, the father of surgery, Avenzoar, the father of experimental surgery, Ibn al-Nafis, the father of circulatory physiology, and Averroes. Rhazes, who is called the father of pediatrics, first disproved the Grecian theory of humorism, which nevertheless remained influential in Western medieval medicine. While major developments in medicine were occurring in the Islamic world during the medieval period, the Western world remained dependent upon the Greco-Roman theory of humorism, which led to questionable treatments such as bloodletting. Islamic medicine and medieval medicine collided during the crusades, with Islamic doctors receiving mixed impressions. As the medieval ages ended, important early figures in medicine emerged in Europe, including Gabriele Falloppio and William Harvey.