We will structure this historical journey into ancient times by examining different thinking and practices of historical figures and societies. We will be exploring how our predecessors:

  1. rendered various medical conditions that are associated with communication;
  2. portrayed communication, its functions and breakdowns;
  3. regarded and treated people with disability (including communication disability); and
  4. educated and rehabilitated those with communication disorders.

Examining frameworks and practices in these four general domains: medicine, rhetoric, disability, and education/rehabilitation, can offer us ways for drawing parallels across time. Each of these domains will be examined for ideas that bear on what today would be considered to be within the scope of theory and practice in speech-language pathology.

We begin by talking about these four domains in the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The treatment is roughly chronological beginning with the earliest cultures of Mesopotamia, and ending with the Romans. The time period covered in this ancient history review begins around 3500 BC and ends around 500 AD, when the medieval period began.