The heart (καρδία, κῆρ) was one of the most discussed bodily parts in antiquity. This is due, not so much to any assertion that it was the centre of the vascular system, but that it was widely regarded it as the seat of cognition and governor of movement and sensation. From the Hellenistic era onwards, these supposed attributes were set against the counter claim that the brain mediated these functions. This debate remained unsettled, despite Galen’s efforts, and the heart’s association with emotional states persists to this day.Babylonian medicine possessed terms for the irregularity of the pulse, which served as labels for the heart. Egyptian medicine named the heart (ib, haty), and a vessel system (metu), which transported fluids of the body (including blood and air), as well as pathological and waste products. The connection between the heart beat and the peripheral pulse seems to have been recognised. The Iliad provides vivid examples of fatal wounds to the heart.
An anonymous work, preserved in a manuscript of the 1st century ce from Egypt, about several medical issues (definition of basic concepts, medical historiography on the causes of disease, physiology of digestion), Anonymus Londiniensis represents a rare example of an autograph from antiquity. An important source for peripatetic doxography and the reception of Hellenistic medicine.The papyrus P. Lit. Lond. 165, now held in the British Library as inv. 137 (P. Brit. Libr. inv. 137), was published first in 1893 by Hermann Diels, who learned of it through Fridericus G. Kenyon’s first notice.1 Diels set immediately to work, with the help of Kenyon, and produced the edition after a very short time. The papyrus, as reconstructed by Kenyon (with some later additions in 1901), is a roll around 3.5 metres long. Thirty-nine columns, almost complete, are preserved: one or two columns are missing at the beginning, as is at least one between columns IX and X. The text breaks off abruptly halfway down col. XXXIX. The handwriting suggests a date around the later part of the 1st century .