News of vets from 41 centuries ago

Babylonian veterinarians' fees were high in Hammurabi's time. If a veterinarian performed surgery on 12 animals, he received enough silver to build a boat with a capacity of 60 g for this amount (1). The Babylonians used such boats to sail the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, writes Emanuel Maehek, a doctor, professor of ophthalmology at the Franciscan University in Lviv in a brochure published in 1903

The booklet is entitled "Veterinary News from 41 Centuries Before." Given by Prof. Dr. Emanuel Maehek"  and was deposited on the AZON platform (collection of the Medical University of the Silesian Piasts in Wrocław). Professor Maehek presents there information about veterinarians from ancient Babylon, which are found in the Hammurabi Codex, such as the amount of veterinarians' salaries or the compensation they had to pay in the event of treatment failure.

Brochure of prof. Maeheka was published in 1903, i.e. a year after the publication of the Hammurabi Code, which at the turn of 1901/1902 was found in Susa by the French archaeological expedition of Jacques de Morgan.

"Two years ago, a stone document was discovered in Susa, the former capital of Elam, which not only gives serious news about doctors and their activities, but also about veterinarians" - writes prof. Maehek. - The document in question is the legal code of King Hammurabi. (...) The cuneiform script is engraved in a hard stone (diorite) that has survived for 41 centuries ”.

Doctors in Babylon were high in the social hierarchy, the professor points out. - They performed eye and surgical operations and were well paid for it. It is interesting, however, that the veterinarians, whom the Hammurabi Code calls "ox or donkey doctors", had an equally high social position. The Code mentions them in §. 224 and §. 225.
If the veterinarian "inflicts a wound on an ox or a donkey" but heals the animal, the owner of the animal must pay him one sixth of the "silver shekel". However, if the animal dies because of this wound, the doctor must pay the owner "a quarter of the value of the ox or donkey."

Emanuel Maehek writes that the honor of the veterinarians was quite high. “For if a veterinarian performed an operation on 12 animals, he received so much silver that a shipbuilder could build a ship with a capacity of 60 gur for this amount (1). These were the ships on which the Babylonians sailed on the Tigris and Euphrates to the Persian Gulf. "

Brochure of prof. Emanuel Maehek in AZON's resources:,55798/

(1) Gur (acad. Hens) - a Babylonian unit of measure of volume, the size of which varied over time. In the Old Babylonian period 1 gur = 300 sila3, i.e. approx. 300 1 (exactly 1 force3 = 0.846 1)