Buddhists ran sophisticated medieval hospitals in Sri Lanka — heated pool, forceps, acupuncture

Acolossal statue of the Buddha, surrounded by cells for monks who conduct daily prayer services. That might be how we imagine a Buddhist monastery today. But for many who lived in present-day Sri Lanka a thousand years ago, that was what a hospital looked like.

Religious leaders throughout history have sought to care for their followers in various ways, and Buddhists were no exception. In fact, excavation projects in Sri Lanka have come up with the ruins of medieval monastic hospitals of a scale that hasn’t yet been seen anywhere in South Asia—even in India, with its long-standing Ayurvedic tradition. With new archaeological data, historians can now reconstruct these medieval healthcare administrations, endowments, and facilities.


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