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Two thorns used for smallpox inoculation, Palestine, 1921

Science Museum, London
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Credit: Two thorns used for smallpox inoculation, Palestine, 1921. Credit: Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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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. maker: Unknown maker Place made: Europe


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