Primitive man knew about disease and its ravages. The Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh (2000 B.C. – Mesopotamian hero) records the presence of pestilence and disease.
The other writings from old dynasties of ancient Egypt, one finds even more descriptions of disease. They even can identify the disease. In those days, disease and pestilence was punishment rendering as a result of “bad deeds” or “evil thoughts”.
Even in the Old Testament is filled with pestilence that God wrought upon those who “crossed” him. From these writings, it is equally apparent that man knew that once he had been afflicted with disease, if he survived, he was normally not able to contract it again.
If throughout early history disease was considered as a punishment by the spirits or demons or goods for vice and sin, then being sparred the initial effects of a raging pestilence or other disease should automatically have been viewed as the inevitable result of having led a clean and pious life.
|Thucydides (460 – 400 BC)|
King Mithridates VI of Pontus of Black Sea region who reigned from 132 to 63 BC and was known as a great enemy of the Roman Empire immunized himself against fungal toxin by administering small non-toxic amounts. He was the first known individual applying the principle of immunization.
As early as 1 A.D, the ancient Roman Celsus documented in De Medicina the heat swelling, pain and redness and that result from human body’s inflammatory response to injury.
Beginning around 1000 A.D., the ancient Chinese practiced a form of immunization by inhaling dried powders derived from the crusts of smallpox lesions.
Around the fifteenth century, a practice of applying powdered smallpox "crusts" and inserting them with a pin or “poking” device into the skin became commonplace. The process was referred to as variolation and became quite common in the Middle East. However, the primary intent of variolation was that of “preserving” the beauty of their daughters and no mention was made of saving lives.
History of Immunology during ancient times