What Was the Mortality Rate in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, the mortality rate was significantly higher compared to the modern era. The lack of advanced medical knowledge and limited access to healthcare contributed to the high mortality rates experienced by the ancient Greeks.

The Impact of Disease

One of the major factors affecting the mortality rate in ancient Greece was disease. Epidemics of various diseases were common, and their impact on the population was devastating. Diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and dysentery were widespread and often led to high death tolls.


Malaria was one of the most prevalent diseases in ancient Greece. It is caused by parasites transmitted through mosquito bites.

The warm climate and stagnant water sources provided an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, leading to a high incidence of malaria. The disease caused severe symptoms such as fever, chills, and fatigue, often resulting in death.


Tuberculosis was another deadly disease that had a significant impact on mortality rates in ancient Greece. It is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs but can also spread to other parts of the body. Tuberculosis weakened individuals’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to other illnesses and contributing to their ultimate demise.

Limited Healthcare Access

In addition to rampant diseases, limited access to healthcare services further increased mortality rates in ancient Greece. Medical knowledge during this time was rudimentary compared to modern standards.

The Role of Healers

Healers, including physicians and herbalists, played a crucial role in treating illnesses in ancient Greece. However, their methods were often based on superstition rather than scientific understanding. They used various herbal remedies and rituals to heal patients but lacked the knowledge of advanced medical practices.

Home Remedies and Folk Medicine

A large portion of the ancient Greek population relied on home remedies and folk medicine to treat illnesses. These remedies often involved herbal concoctions, prayers, and charms. While some of these remedies might have offered temporary relief, they were not always effective in treating severe ailments, resulting in a higher mortality rate.

Infant Mortality

Infant mortality was particularly high in ancient Greece due to several factors.

Poor Sanitation and Hygiene

Poor sanitation and hygiene practices significantly contributed to infant mortality. Lack of clean water sources and improper waste disposal led to the spread of diseases, causing high infant death rates. Additionally, malnourishment due to inadequate breastfeeding or improper nutrition also played a role in the high mortality rate among infants.

Lack of Medical Knowledge for Infant Care

The limited medical knowledge regarding infant care further heightened the mortality rate among newborns. Without proper understanding of hygiene practices or effective treatments for common infant illnesses, ancient Greek parents struggled to protect their children from diseases and infections.

In Conclusion

Ancient Greece experienced a high mortality rate due to rampant diseases, limited access to healthcare services, poor sanitation, and lack of medical knowledge regarding both adult and infant care. The combination of these factors resulted in a significant impact on the population’s overall health and life expectancy.