Surgical treatment at the Danish Cistercian abbey of Øm: a critical analysis

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Through eight decades the Cistercian abbey of Øm, Denmark, has been well known nationally and internationally for its traces of surgical treatments on medieval human bones. The human bones derive from the monastic burial grounds in and around the Abbey ruin. Most of the bone material was excavated in the period 1933-1936 and followed up with a Danish publication in 1936 and a German publication in 1941, both dealing with the skeletal paleopathology. These publications furthermore argued that the monastery functioned as a hospital in the medieval period 1172-1536 AD, a claim which has since, remained practically undebated
Modern anthropological analysis is questioning the former interpretation of the human skeletal material. New insight gives the basis to reevaluate the role of the Cistercian monks as physicians and surgeons. This paper looks into the alleged surgical treatment on human bones and deals with the question, whether surgery has taken place at the site, as well as the monastery’s role as a medieval hospital.

Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventEAA: 22nd Annual Meeting of the EAA - Vilnius Universitet, Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 31 Aug 20164 Sept 2016
Conference number: 22


LocationVilnius Universitet
Internet address

Bibliographical note

TH6-13 Abstract 03


  • Surgical treatment
  • Cistercian abbey
  • Medieval archaeology
  • Trepanations

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