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[Correspondence] Cautery in medieval surgery: a unique palaeopathological case

Cautery is a fundamental tool in ancient and medieval surgery. According to a aphorism of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, “Those diseases which medicines do not cure, iron cures; those which iron cannot cure, fire cures; and those which fire cannot cure, are to be reckoned wholly incurable”.1 This statement was accepted in Roman medicine and then by the Byzantine and Islamic surgical practices in the Middle Ages.2 Despite this widespread acceptance, the bioarchaeological evidence of the use of cautery is extremely rare.