Dr. Orly Lewis

Orly Lewis
Principal Investigator


Dr. Orly LewisI studied for a B.A. (History and Classics) and M.A. (Classics) at Tel-Aviv University, where I became interested in the history of medicine. I left Israel for Berlin in 2010, where I spent six years at the Humboldt University at the Classics Department as a PhD Fellow and then Postdoctoral Fellow in research groups working on medicine and philosophy in the ancient world. In 2016 I moved to Jerusalem to continue my research as part of the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences – a lively group of wonderful colleagues and friends, which has enriched my work and the way I study and think about the ancient world.

My work explores Greco-Roman medicine, natural philosophy, biology and scientific method. My focus is anatomy, physiology and diagnostics and the relation between these parts of medical theory and practice. I am intrigued by how people explored and interpreted nature, in particularly the living body, its structure and its workings. Alongside questions concerning ancient ideas of the structure and workings of the body and mind, I consider how theory, empirical research and clinical practice fed into one another so as to generate different models of human anatomy and physiology and different methods for examining and interpreting the physical and mental condition of individual patients. Additionally, my work addresses methodological problems arising from the fragmentary nature of our sources, the scarcity of material evidence,  the dangers of anachronism and the disciplinary and conceptual gaps between historians of medicine and the physicians whom we study.