History of Hearing: The earliest skeletal remains were believed to have hearing loss were found in Iraqi Kurdistan around 10,000 – 45,000 years ago. Scientists assumed there was hearing loss involved due to finding bony growth that blocked the eardrum. In today’s time, we would call this a conductive hearing loss.
In around 1500 BC in Egypt, the first account for hearing loss documentation was written down. They wrote about a remedy they used that “involved injecting olive oil, red lead, ant eggs, bat wings, and got urine into the ears” (atlantahearingdoctor.com).
In Greece, Plato and Aristotle would write about the deaf community. Unlike the Egyptians, who were nice and tried to help those with supposed hearing loss, the Greek were not as accommodating. Plato and Aristotle wrote “the ‘ability to reason was intrinsically linked with the ability to speak’. What the philosophers meant by this was that by those who are deaf ‘from the first’ (which is thought to mean birth or before learning to speak) were unintelligent” (atlantahearingdoctor.com). However, even with their narrow-minded nature, the Greek were still noted as the first to come up with a form of sign language.
Closer to our lifetime, the first deaf school was started by Benedictine Pedro Ponce de Leon around the 1500s in Oña, Ecuador. Ponce de Leon is often noted as the “first teacher of the deaf”. Jumping to the 1700s, individuals who were hard of hearing or deaf were not living very long. They faced many complications that were essential out of their hands.
In the early 1900s, hearing aids finally were patented. By the 1940s, hearing aids had been condensed to fit into people’s ears. Prior hearing aids were attached to furniture, like chairs, rather than independently in the ear.
In the 1960s, ASL, American Sign Language was deemed as a language. The 1980s were known as a time of medical advancements in the hearing world. Cochlear Implants, Auditory Brain-Stem Implants, and Micro-Surgery were becoming more popular and available.
Nowadays, those who are hard of hearing or deaf have multiple resources available to them. There are Assistive Technology devices, mobile apps that cater to hearing needs, and public places even have accommodations like movie theaters providing captions. Hearing has a lot of history associated with it, but it is exciting know that hearing is progressing in a positive direction!