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  • Jasmine woods

The Mysterious History Of Massage

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

The massage is one of the oldest forms of therapy and recuperation, tracing its history as far back as the earliest civilisations.

However, because of this long history that spans from Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to the ability to find a mobile massage near me wherever I am today, it can be very difficult to trace the starting point of the practice.

There are three possible candidates for the earliest known reference to massages, each several thousand years old and spanning the length and breadth of the world.

The first visual depiction of what is believed to be a foot and hand massage appears in the Tomb of the Doctor (also known as the Tomb of Ankhmanthor), in ancient Egypt, where two men are having some kind of treatment on their hands and feet.

Whilst this could be another form of treatment, it most closely resembles the massaging of extremities, showcasing that as far back as the earliest civilisations, massage was seen as a treatment in itself.

As for the term massage itself, it traces itself back to the word muššu'u, which can be traced back over 4,000 years to the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia.

It was a word used both in Sumerian and Akkadian texts and much like other parts of early medicine in the field was a mix of both rubbing actions and incantations.

Finally, there were references to massage in 30 separate chapters of the Huangdi Neijing, the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor, which was the foundational text of traditional Chinese medicine.

This was the first time massage’s specific benefits were mentioned and how it could be used to help treat specific injuries.

However, there is some controversy regarding the time in which this book was composed. It dates back to the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history (roughly 722-481 BC). However, because of its references to the Yellow Emperor, it is believed to contain information that predates written history.

The reign of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi dates back to around 2700 BC, which if it could be confirmed would make it the oldest known form of massage therapy.

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