According to most historians, the modern hospital as we know it today traces its origins to the eastern part of the Roman Empire, the part that after the final partition of the Empire by Theodosius the Great (AD395) became the Byzantine Empire.

Research into the history of the hospitals has been difficult, because only scattered ruins of former buildings survive and relevant manuscripts have been lost. There is substantial agreement, however, that no institutions resembling hospitals existed in the ancient world, even though the Romans had some facilities serving soldiers, servants, slaves, injured gladiators, and the very poor – so-called proto-hospitals, more often places to die rather than to be cured.