Dr. Orly Lewis

Buber Fellow: 
Research Field: 


Academic interests: 

• Greco-Roman anatomy, physiology and diagnostics, in particular:
o Air and blood in physiology, psychology and pathology.
o The physiology and diagnostic use of the pulse.
o The physiology of pain and the classification of types of pain.

• History of ideas about soul and body-soul relation.

• Aristotelian and Stoic biology.

• The interrelation of theory and practice in ancient medicine.

• The relation between medicine and philosophy in antiquity.

• The reception of Greco-Roman medicine in Medieval Jewish and Muslim science.

Current Projects: 

I am a classicist and historian of medicine, science and ideas. My work focuses on Greco-Roman medicine, natural philosophy, biology and scientific method. Alongside questions concerning ancient ideas of the structure and workings of the body and mind/soul, 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 diagnosing 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, and the dangers of anachronism. 

Curriculum Vitae: 
  • Summer semester 2018: DIAGNOSTICS AND THERAPEUTICS IN ANTIQUITY; Undergraduate seminar, Department of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, summer semester. (In Hebrew)
  • Summer semester 2017: BODY, SOUL AND ENSOULED BODIES: PRE-MODERN IDEAS OF BODY, SOUL, HEALTH AND ILLNESS IN THE WESTERN WORLD; Graduate seminar, Department of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, summer semester. (In Hebrew)
  • Summer semester 2016: MENTAL HEALTH AND ILLNESS IN ANCIENT MEDICAL TEXTS;  Undergraduate seminar, Department of Classics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, summer semester. (co-taught with Philip van der Eijk and Ricardo Julião) (In German)


  • 2014 PhD, Humboldt University of Berlin (Classics Department) (Summa cum Laude).
  • 2010 MA, Tel-Aviv University (Classics Department) (Summa cum Laude).
  • 2007 BA, Tel-Aviv University (Departments of History and Classics) (Summa cum laude).
Former Affiliations
  • 2015 – 2016 Post-Doctoral-Fellow, Excellence Cluster TOPOI – “The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations” (Humboldt University of Berlin, Classics Department) – Group D-2: Mapping Body and Soul.
  • 2014 Visiting Scholar, Humboldt University of Berlin (Classics Department).
  • 2011 – 2013 Doctoral Fellow, Humboldt University of Berlin (Classics Department – the Alexander von Humboldt research group: Medicine of the Mind, Philosophy of the Body – Discourses of Health and Well-Being in the Ancient World.
  • Lewis, O., Praxagoras of Cos on Arteries Pulse and Pneuma: Fragments and Interpretation (Leiden, 2017).
    •  Daniela Manetti, “Orly Lewis. Praxagoras of Cos on Arteries, Pulse, and Pneuma,” Medical History (forthcoming, 2019)
    •   Vivian Nutton, “Orly Lewis. Praxagoras of Cos on Arteries, Pulse, and Pneuma,” Isis 109, no. 2 (2018): 378-379. https://doi.org/10.1086/697909
    •    Jessica Wright, “Orly Lewis. Praxagoras of Cos on Arteries, Pulse, and Pneuma,Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2017.07.34 (2017). http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2017/2017-07-34.html
    •  Afonasin E.V., Afonasina A.S. “Orly Lewis. Praxagoras of Cos on Arteries, Pulse, and Pneuma,” History of medicine 4, no. 4 (2017): 410–412. DOI: 10.17720/2409-5834.v4.4.2017.10j


Edited Volume
  • The Concept of Pneuma after Aristotle (Berlin, in press). (with David Leith and Sean Coughlin)
Articles in peer-reviewed journals
  • “Fragments of History and Science”, Isis 109.1 (2018), 83–86.
  • “Marcellinus’ De pulsibus: a Neglected Treatise on the Ancient ‘Art of the Pulse’”, Scripta Classica Israelica 34 (2015), 195-214. 
  • “De Spiritu: A New Case against Authenticity”, Classical Philology, 110.2 (2015), 159-167. (with Pavel Gregoric)
  •  “The Context of De Spiritu”, Early Science and Medicine 20.2 (2015), 125-149. (with Pavel Gregoric)
  •  “The Substance of De Spiritu”, Early Science and Medicine, 20.2 (2015), 101-124. (with Pavel Gregoric and Martin Kuhar)


  •  “Pre-Modern Ideas of the Heart and their Practical Implications”, Medical Humanities 46.4 (forthcoming, 2020), special issue The Heart as a Pump, eds. T. Feiler, J. Horden and A. Papanikitas. 
Book chapters
  • “Archigenes of Apamea’s Treatment of Mental Diseases”, in C. Thumiger and P.N. Singer (eds.), Mental Diseases in Ancient Medicine (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 143–175.
  • “Mental and Physical Gradualism in Greco-Roman Medicine”, in K. Geert, R. Hauswald, L. Keuck (eds.), Vagueness in Psychiatry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 27–45. (with Chiara Thumiger and Philip van der Eijk)
  • “The Practical Application of Ancient ‘Pulse-Lore’ and its Influence on the Patient-Doctor Interaction”, in G. Petridou and C. Thumiger (eds.), Approaches to the Patient in the Ancient World (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 345-364.


  • “Heat and Fire in the Theory of Ps.-Aristotle’s De Spiritu”, in H. Bartos and C. King (eds.), Aristotle and his Predecessors on Heat, Pneuma and Soul, (in print).
  • “Introduction”, in: S. Coughlin, D. Leith, O. Lewis (eds.), The Concept of Pneuma after Aristotle (Berlin; Edition Topoi, in press). (with David Leith and Sean Coughlin)
  • “Pneuma in Early Hellenistic Medicine”, in: S. Coughlin, D. Leith, O. Lewis (eds.), The Concept of Pneuma after Aristotle (Berlin, Edition Topoi, in press). (with David Leith)
  • “What was Pneumatist about the Pneumatist School?”, in: S. Coughlin, D. Leith, O. Lewis (eds.), The Concept of Pneuma after Aristotle (Berlin, in press). (with Sean Coughlin)
  • “Galen against Archigenes on the Classification of Pulses”, in M. Havrda and R.J. Hankinson (eds.), Galen’s Epistemology (volume under review at Cambridge University Press).
  • “The Medical Theory and Method of the Anonymus Parisinus”, in: P. Bouras-Vallianatos (ed.), Exploring Greek Manuscripts at The Wellcome Library (London: Routledge, in preparation).
  • “The Mechanics of Galen's Theory of Nutrition”, in G. Kazantzidis and M. Gerolemou (eds.), The Body as Machine in Antiquity (volume under review at Cambridge University Press, in preparation).
  •  “Pain in the Diagnostic theory of Archigenes of Apamea”, in D. King, H. Baltussen, J. Clarke, Pain in the Ancient World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, in preparation).
  • “Diagnosis and Prognosis: the theory of the pulse”, in: J. Laskaris, R. Rosen and P.N. Singer (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Galen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, in preparation).
Exhibition catalogue
  • “Dissection as a Method of Discovery”, in U. Kornmeier (ed.) The Soul is an Octopus. Ancient Ideas of Life and the Body (Berlin: Berlin Museum of Medical History, 2016), 24-29.
  • “Localising the Soul in the Body”, in U. Kornmeier (ed.) The Soul is an Octopus. Ancient Ideas of Life and the Body (Berlin: Berlin Museum of Medical History, 2016), 31-35.
  • “Brain and Heart as Organs of the Soul”, in U. Kornmeier (ed.) The Soul is an Octopus. Ancient Ideas of Life and the Body (Berlin: Berlin Museum of Medical History, 2016), 37-43.
  •  “Substances in Service of the Soul”, in U. Kornmeier (ed.) The Soul is an Octopus. Ancient Ideas of Life and the Body (Berlin: Berlin Museum of Medical History, 2016), 45-51.
  • Report on The Concept of Pneuma after Aristotle (Berlin, 2-4 July 2015), published in Neoptopia 2015/4. (With Sean Coughlin)
  • Report on ‘Knowledge, Ethics and Representations of Medicine and Health: Historical Perspectives’ – The Society for the Social History of Medicine 2010 Conference (Durham and Newcastle, 8-11 July 2010), published in Society for the Social History of Medicine – The Gazette, no. 51, 2010. (With Pauline Koetschet)


Presentations at Conferences, Workshops and Colloquia

Invited Presentations

May 2018 THE PAIN OF THE PATIENT AND ITS FUNCTION IN THE DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURE – AN ANCIENT PERSPECTIVE Lecture Series Forum Rubin, School of History, Tel-Aviv University. (in Hebrew)
Apr. 2018 ARCHIGENES ON EXPERIENCING PAIN Conference Pain in the Roman World, University of Exeter.
Apr. 2018 TAKING THE PULSE IN ANCIENT GREECE AND ROME: BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE Workshop Medical Practice in Chinese Medicine in Comparative Perspective, Department of Asian Studies, Tel-Aviv University.
Apr. 2018 GRECO-ROMAN DIAGNOSTICS: FROM THE INDIVIDUAL TO THE COMMON AND BACK AGAIN Colloquium Contour and Expressions of the Self in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures, Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Jerusalem.
Dec. 2017 HUMAN PAIN IN ANTIQUITY Colloquium of the History Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (in Hebrew)
Dec. 2017 THE “MECHANICS” AND MECHANISMS OF THE MOTION OF AIR AND NUTRIMENT IN THE HUMAN BODY Workshop Medicine and Mechanics in Antiquity: Towards an Early History of Iatromechanics, University of Cyprus, Nicosia.
Nov. 2017 CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS OF ANCIENT CONCEPTIONS OF SOUL Workshop Visualizing the Soul, Tel-Aviv University and Van Leer Institute of Jerusalem.
Sep. 2017 PAIN AND PULSE AS HOLISTIC SYMPTOMS Conference Ancient Holisms, Institute for Classical Studies, London.
May 2017 THE MEDICAL THEORY OF THE ANONYMOUS OF PARIS Symposium Byzantine Manuscripts at the Wellcome Library, Wellcome Library, London.
May 2017 EXPLORING, INTERPRETING AND UNDERSTANDING THE BODY Guest speaker, Centre of Hellenic Studies, London.
Apr. 2017 EMPIRICAL OBSERVATION AND THE SHAPING OF GRECO-ROMAN IDEAS OF MIND Keynote lecture, 4th LMU-HU Joint Graduate Workshop in Ancient Philosophy, Ludwig-Maximillian University, Munich.
Apr. 2017 THE ROLE OF THE PATIENT IN THE DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURE: ANCIENT PERSPECTIVES Guest speaker, School of History, University of Haifa. (Hebrew)
Mar. 2017 THE ROLE OF NERVES IN VOLUNTARY MOTION – BETWEEN GREECE AND ROME Colloquium of the History Department, Tel-Aviv University. (in Hebrew)
May 2016 BODY AND SOUL IN ANCIENT MEDICINE: THEORY, CLINICAL METHODS AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH Talk, Centre for Medical Humanities / Classics Department, University of Exeter.
Apr. 2016 THE PHYSIOLOGY OF THE MIND AND ANATOMICAL RESEARCH IN THE GRECO-ROMAN WORLD Colloquium The Body’s Mind and the Mind’s Body: Bodily States and Cognition in the Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew Philosophical and Medical Traditions, University of Geneva.
Oct. 2015 DUNAMIS AND AGNOSTICISM IN GALEN’S PHYSIOLOGY Conference Natural Philosophy in Galen, Humboldt University of Berlin.
Mar. 2015 THE PHYSIOLOGY OF MENTAL DISEASES: THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF ARCHIGENES OF APAMEA Colloquium Classics Department, Tel-Aviv University. (in Hebrew)
Oct. 2014 THE PHYSIOLOGY OF MENTAL DISEASES IN THE DOCTRINES OF THE SO-CALLED PNEUMATIST PHYSICIANS’ (With Sean Coughlin) Workshop Mental Diseases in Ancient Medicine, Humboldt University of Berlin.
June 2014 THEORY AND PRACTICE IN THE GRECO-ROMAN “ART OF THE PULSE” Colloquium of the Babylonian Medicine Research Project,Free University of Berlin.
Nov. 2013 GALEN, DE PLACITIS 7.3.1-19: GALEN AND ERASISTRATUS ON THE ORIGIN OF THE NERVES Reading Group of Galen’s De Placitis Hippocratis et Platonis VII, Excellence Cluster Topoi, Berlin.
Nov. 2011 PHILOSOPHY IN THE SERVICE OF MEDICINE: THE CASE OF ARISTOTLE AND PRAXAGORAS Guest Speaker, Centre for Croatian Studies, University of Zagreb.
May 2011 DECIPHERING A MEDICAL CROSSROAD: TOWARDS A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE THEORIES OF PRAXAGORAS OF COS Colloquium, Classics and Ancient History Department, University of Warwick.

Further Presentations

Oct. 2018 THE ANATOMICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL THEORY OF THE HIPPOCRATIC Περὶ καρδιής 16th Hippocratic Colloquium, University of Rome Tor Vergata.
July 2018 THE ‘HIPPOCRATIC’ ON THE HEART AND HELLENISTIC ANATOMICAL RESEARCH Eleventh Celtic Conference in Classics, University of St. Andrews.
June 2018 DO SCIENTISTS AND HISTORIANS OF SCIENCE NEED EACH OTHER? Workshop: Un/Certainty,University of Konstanz.
Dec. 2016 FROM MOBILE MATTER TO MOBILE BODIES: THE PHYSIOLOGY OF MOTION IN GRECO-ROMAN THOUGHT Workshop Mobility 2.0: Aspirations, Challenges, Obstacles, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Jan. 2015 A “PNEUMATIST” SCHOOL? (with Sean Coughlin) Workshop The Pneumatist “School” (?): Doctrines and Representation, Humboldt University of Berlin.
Dec. 2014 THE ORIGINS AND CONSEQUENCES OF THE “DISCOVERY OF THE ARTERIES” Conference Towards the Authority of Vesalius. Representations of the Human Body in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Catholic University of Leuven.
May 2013 INNOVATIVE MEDICAL CONCEPTS IN THE FOURTH CENTURY BC Training seminar Anchoring Innovation, Topoi Berlin.
Dec. 2012 HIPPOCRATES, ARISTOTLE AND OBSERVATION AS SOURCES OF PRAXAGORAS OF COS’ IDEAS ON ARTERIES, NERVES AND VOLUNTARY MOTION Berlin Doctoral Forum for the History of Science, Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.
July 2012 THE ARISTOTELIAN ROOTS OF PRAXAGORAS OF COS’ CONCEPTION OF ARTERIES, NEURA AND PNEUMA Conference 32nd Arbeitskreis alte Medizin, Institut für Geschichte, Theorie und Ethik der Medizin, Mainz.
July 2011 PNEUMA, SOUL AND BODY: INTERACTIONS OF MEDICINE AND PHILOSOPHY BETWEEN ARISTOTLE AND HELLENISTIC TIMES Graduate Conference Ancient Philosophy and Science Network, Humboldt University of Berlin.
July 2010 MEDICAL AND RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE AND ITS SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL PLAGUES Bi-annual Conference of the Society for the Social History of Medicine, Durham and Newcastle Universities.
Sep. 2009 THE CONCEPT OF EPIDEMIC CONTAGION IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL TIMES International Workshop for the History of Concepts, Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem.
Dec. 2008 THE CONCEPT OF PLAGUE IN ANCIENT ATHENS AND MEDIEVAL EUROPE Research Training Seminar CONCEPTA “Beyond Classical Key Concepts: Applied Conceptual Analysis”, Complutense University of Madrid.
June 2008 MYTHICAL AND HISTORICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF PLAGUES IN ANCIENT GREECE Annual Conference of The Israel Society for the Promotion of Classical Studies, Tel-Aviv University.