Talking with a friend, he told me that the first surgeons were the barbers. In part it made sense as they are used to cut and cure people as they shave them. Even the striped bar red white and blue comes because of the bandages hanging outside tinted white or tinted in blood.

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    Welcome to History:SE. Could you edit your question to clarify what you've looked into already, complete with links and references, and context if applicable? In particular, please let us know what you find missing or unclear about the Wikipedia entry on the topic, if one exists. This allows those who might want to answer to do so without needing to redo the work you've already done. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. – Mark C. Wallace Nov 4 at 22:05
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    Yes, The novel The Physician, deals with this matter giving a fair idea of how medicine was practiced in the 11th centry Europe/Middle East. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Physician – Mark Johnson Nov 4 at 22:10
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    I am not sure if we can call them surgeons, but barbers and other "non-professionals" were routinely conducted procedures that now we consider surgical in eg Medieval Europe. Note that it often means fixing up injuries, treating wounds, etc, so situations where any intervention is generally a better choice than no intervention. – Greg Nov 4 at 22:22
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    This question isn't answered by the "History" link on the Wikipedia page for Barbers, is it? – T.E.D. Nov 4 at 22:26
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    @T.E.D. The article does not go into the aspect that in the countryside Barbers were the only medical help really available. – Mark Johnson Nov 4 at 22:32

Consider carefully how you asked your question. I think the useful statement would be

It is true that, at some time in the past, barbers provided some surgical procedures while physicians did not.

But that is not actually the answer to the question you asked. There is evidence of surgical procedures from thousands of years ago, long before the barbers you associate with the striped poles. So barbers were not the first surgeons.

"The past" is not a single point in time. It different from century to century, from region to region. An answer that would be correct for 16th century Europe could be wrong for 3rd century China.

Many people who ask and talk about history will either overestimate or underestimate ancient civilizations. Take the famous Antikythera mechanism, a kind of mechanical calculator for astronomical events. When it was found, the reaction by many experts was "wow, I didn't think that the ancient Greek were that advanced." What some sloppy journalists made out of it was "advanced civilization in ancient Greece." But even with Antikythera mechanism, the ancient Greek were less advanced than 20th century science. Probably even less advanced than 13th or 14th century science, overall.

  • I want to upvote but I'm not sure about that last sentence. – bonzo-lz Nov 9 at 5:12
  • @bonzo-lz, horse collars, three-field system, crucible steel ... – o.m. Nov 9 at 7:02

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