PHLEBOTOMY, CUPPING PHLEBOTOMY, HIJAMA
The medieval practice of surgery included bloodletting, cupping, and cauterization, the latter employing caustics or a heated metal rod, not just to stop bleeding, but as a treatment in itself. These procedures — bloodletting, cupping, and cauterization — were very old techniques indigenous to the pre-Islamic Near East as well as to ancient Greece. In the Islamic world these practices were to a large extent conducted by barbers and cuppers and others outside the sphere of the learned physicians who composed treatises. Every medieval hammam, or steam bath, had a barber and a cupper or bloodletter in attendance, and often the barber served dual roles. The hammam was a vital centre for the maintenance of health and regimen in Islamic society, and every town had one or more of them.
While phlebotomy, cupping, and cauterization were primarily conducted by barbers or cuppers, the topics were discussed in every general medieval medical encyclopedia, for they were treated as aspects of surgery. They were, moreover, the occasional focus of monographs.