Archaeological evidence of massage has been found in many ancient civilizations including China, India, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Rome, Greece and Mesopotamia.
The Tomb of Akmanthor (also known as “The Tomb of the Physician”) from 2330 BC in Saggara, Egypt depicted two men having work done on their feet and hands, presumably massage.
In 722 BC the Chinese Huangdi Neijing was composed. It was a compendium of medical knowledge and is the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Massage is referred to in 30 different chapters. It specifies the use of different massage techniques and how they should be used in the treatment of specific ailments and injuries.
In 500 BC Jīvaka Komarabhācca, the founder of Traditional Thai massage and Thai medicine codified a healing system that combines acupressure, reflexology and assisted yoga postures. Jivaka is known today as “Father Doctor” in Thailand.
In 460 BC Hippocrates wrote that “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing”.
In 300 BC Charaka Samhita believed to be the oldest of the three ancient treatises of Ayurvedic medicine, was written. Sanscrit records indicate that massage had been practised in India long before the beginning of recorded history.
In 581 AD Dr Sun Si Miao in China introduced ten new massage techniques and systematized the treatment of childhood diseases using massage therapy. China established a department of massage therapy within the Office of Imperial Physicians.
Avicenna, one of the greatest Persian medics, philosopher and logician, wrote one of his books, al-Quanun fi at-tibb (The Canon of Medicine). It has been called the most famous book in the history of medicine in both East and West. Avicenna took special note of analgesics and their use as well as other methods of relieving pain, including massage.
MORE RECENT YEARS
In 1776 Jean Joseph Marie Amiot and Pierre-Martial Cibot, French missionaries in China translated summaries of Huangdi Neijing, including a list of medical plants, exercises and elaborate massage techniques, into the French language, thereby introducing Europe to the highly developed Chinese system of medicine, medical gymnastics, and medical massage.