Archaeological evidence of massage has been found in many ancient civilizations including China, India, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Mesopotamia.
BC 2330: The Tomb of Akmanthor (also known as “The Tomb of the Physician”) in Saqqara, Egypt, depicts two men having work done on their feet and hands, possibly massage.
BC 2000: The word muššu’u (“massage”) is written for the first time, and its use is described, in some Sumerian and Akkadian texts found at the beginning of the 21st century in ancient Mesopotamia.
BC 722–481: Huangdi Neijing is composed during the Chinese Spring and Autumn period. The Nei-jing is a compilation of medical knowledge known up to that date, and is the foundation of traditional Chinese medicine. Massage is referred to in 30 different chapters of the Nei Jing. It specifies the use of different massage techniques and how they should be used in the treatment of specific ailments, and injuries. Also known as “The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon,” the text refers to previous medical knowledge from the time of the Yellow Emperor (approx 2700 BC), misleading some into believing the text itself was written during the time of the Yellow Emperor (which would predate written history).
BC 762: “In the Iliad and the Odyssey the massage with oils and aromatic substances is mentioned as a means to relax the tired limbs of warriors and a way to help the treatment of wounds.”
BC 700: Bian Que, the earliest known Chinese physician uses massage in medical practice.
BC 500: Jīvaka Komarabhācca was an Indian physician who according to the Pāli Buddhist Canon was Shakyamuni Buddha’s physician. Jivaka is sometimes credited with founding and developing a style of massage that led to the type of massage practiced in current-day Thailand. Though this claim is disputed.
BC 493: A possible biblical reference documents daily “treatments” with oil of myrrh as a part of the beauty regimen of the wives of Xerxes (Esther, 2:12).
BC 460: Hippocrates wrote “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing.”
BC 300: Charaka Samhita, sometimes dated to 800 BCE, is one of the oldest of the three ancient treatises of Ayurvedic medicine, including massage. Sanskrit records indicate that massage had been practiced in India long before the beginning of recorded history.
AD 581: China establishes a department of massage therapy within the Office of Imperial Physicians.