P23


Medical knowledge in motion: exchange, transformation and iteration in the medical traditions of the Late Antique Mediterranean world 
Convenorss:
Matteo Martelli (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)
Christine Salazar (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Lennart Lehmhaus (Project A03 "Talmudic Medicine")
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Location:
Sala 1.05, Edifício I&D, Piso 1
Start time:
16 July, 2015 at 11:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
3

Short Abstract:

The panel seeks to bring together scholars to explore the transfer of Graeco-Roman medical knowledge in different cultural contexts from a synchronic and diachronic perspective. The papers will address literary, social and institutional manifestations of cultural exchange in this field of science.

Long Abstract

The research project about "The Transfer of Medical Episteme in the 'Encyclopaedic' Compilations of Late Antiquity" (Prof. Philip J. van der Eijk and Prof. Markham J. Geller) contributes to CHAM Congress with a pre-organized panel on medical practices and theories from Late Antiquity to Early Modern Times. The project is run within the framework of the Collaborative Research Center (SFB 980) "Episteme in Motion", at the Freie Universität in Berlin.

(http://www.sfb-episteme.de/en/teilprojekte/sagen/A03/index.html)

The topic of the panel is concerned with medical discourse(s) in different traditions. We aim to explore the forms in which medical knowledge was developed, canonized, transformed and exchanged within different cultural milieux throughout the Late Antique and Early Medieval Mediterranean world. Specific attention will be devoted to the following topics:

1) Reception and canonization of Greek Classical Medicine in the Byzantine medical encyclopedias (Oribasius, Aetius of Amida, Paul of Aegina).

2) Jewish medical practice and theory as embedded both in the Talmudic tradition and in more recent technical treatises.

3) Medical discourses in the surrounding areas, with specific attention to the reception of Greek medicine in the Syriac and Arabic tradition.

The diachronic structure of the panel will help to contextualize the broad array of processes of transmission, transfer, rejection, modification and invention of medical knowledge. The format of the panel will combine pre-organised sessions with solicited papers by invited speakers and at least one open session to which interested scholars can apply with a paper proposal.

Accepted papers:

Authors:

Matteo Martelli (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)
Christine Salazar (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will compare selected passages about earths and minerals from Galen's On Simple Remedies, book IX, with similar ones in Aetius of Amida (6th century). Through a close reading of these chapters, we will explore some aspects both of Galen's approach to the topic and of its later reception.

Paper long abstract:

The 6th-century medical writer Aetius of Amida is one of the late antique/early Byzantine medical encyclopaedists, and one of the main sources for his sixteen-book medical compendium is Galen (129-c. 210 CE), the most prolific medical writer of antiquity. Aetius' first two books cover pharmacology, for which he draws heavily on book IX of Galen's work On Simple Remedies.

In this book, Galen collected, selected and reorganized an overwhelming mass of information about the natural properties of minerals, their classification, their availability in the regions around the Mediterranean Sea, and their main therapeutic uses in medical practice. The passages to be presented in this paper deal with minerals, and in particular earths or soils, different kinds of which are described in great detail, both their characteristics and their therapeutic properties. For this purpose Aetius, whilst to a large extent using Galen's writings, which by then had achieved canonic status for medical knowledge, refashions his source material in a creative way, as well as adding material from other authors (some of them otherwise lost). By comparing both texts, we will stress some important and specific elements of Galen's discourse about minerals as well as some aspects of the later reception of the book.

Author:

Irene Calà (CNRS UMR8167 'Orient et Mediterranée')

Paper short abstract:

The paper will offer a view on the medical use of amulets in the medical works of the 6th and 7th century AD. I will examine the relations beetween the works of Aetius of Amida, Alexander of Tralles and Paul of Egina and their sources.

Paper long abstract:

The boundaries between rational and popular magical medicine were unclear since the origin of rational medicine in the Corpus hippocraticum and they remained so until Late Antiquity.

The medical works in the 6th and 7th centuries AD. show large overlapping areas between rational, magical and religious medicine.

Physicians tried to keep their distance from the practices considered as superstitious. For instance Aetius Amidenus suggests keeping away from magic in chapter 85 of the second book of his Libri medicinales, thus stressing the rational features of his works. This claim seems to indicate a clear opposition between two kinds of medicine, rational and magical. As a matter of fact, the medical writers do include in their treatises magical remedies, such as amulets.

Based on the number of occurrences in the texts, amulets play a particular place. They are of three kinds: vegetable, mineral and animal. I will focus on the medical work of Aetius of Amida, Alexander of Tralles and Paul of Egina to show a view on the therapeutic use of the amulets, with specific attention to the mineral ones.

This paper is intended to link up with papers of Matteo Martelli "Galen on the pharmacological properties of minerals" and Christine Salazar "Aetius of Amidas on the Medical Uses of Earth and Minerals - Reception and Transformation".

Author:

Lucia Raggetti (Freie Universität Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

This paper compares the structure and the contents of the Arabic translation of the IX book on minerals in the ‘De Simplicium Medicamentorum’ by Galen, with the Pseudo-Aristotle ‘On Stones’, outlining two complementary tendencies in Mediaeval Arabic mineralogy.

Paper long abstract:

In the 9th century Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq translated from Greek into Arabic 'The Book on the Properties of Simple Drugs' by Galen. The IX Book contains the discussion and the description of earths, precious stones, and metals, together with biographical notes on Galen's research. Although the quotations from this book in later medical works are quite scanty, the manuscript tradition places it in the center of the scholarly attention in 11th-10th century al-Andalus. In the same century, the 'Book On Stones' was composed in Arabic and attributed to Aristotle, therefore presented as a translation from Greek. This not only contains the description of many more stones and minerals in comparison to Galen, but it has also a more compilative and literary character. Some selected passages will show how these works are representative of two different streams of tradition in the Mediaeval Arabic mineralogy. This paper is intended to link up with Matteo Martelli's—on the pharmacological properties of Galen in Greek—in a comparative approach, to show how the Arabic tradition interpreted the Greek one, in parallel with its original contributions.

Authors:

Tanja Hidde (Freie Universität Berlin)
Lennart Lehmhaus (Project A03 "Talmudic Medicine")

Paper short abstract:

The presentation focuses on the category of "Diet & Regimen" within the medical passages of the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud and its connection to the Greco-Roman medical corpus of Late Antiquity.

Paper long abstract:

Throughout their legal-religious discussions, the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmudim deal also with medical issues. When the Talmuds were edited in the 5th-7th centuries AD, medicine was already a well-developed science. In the Babylonian Talmud one can discern not only traces of Greek medicine, but also of earlier Mesopotamian medicine. This presentation focuses on the category of "Diet & Regimen" within the medical passages of the Talmudim and its connection to older medical systems. The genre of "Diet & Regimen", emphasizing proper nutrition and physical exercise as prerequisites for a healthy constitution, is a distinct medical genre in the corpus of Greek medicine, but almost absent in Mesopotamian medicine. When the Babylonian Talmud was composed, Mesopotamia was under Sassanian rule, and although it is commonly assumed that Mesopotamia resisted Hellenization, a bulk of medical advices concerning "Diet and Regimen" within rabbinic literature is preserved in the Babylonian Talmud. The Greco-Roman practice of bloodletting and the food one should consume or avoid afterwards is often discussed in the Babylonian Talmud, but occurs less in the Palestinian Talmud. Medical knowledge about "Diet & Regimen" in the Babylonian Talmud has to be analyzed together with rabbinic literature from Palestine which was closer to the Greco-Roman cultural realm. We will ask if this knowledge was transmitted and trasnfered into the Babylonian Talmud through Palestinian rabbis. The genre of "Diet & Regimen" was adapted by the rabbis according to their own needs and integrated into discussions about modest behavior, or constructed as excurses on halakhical issues.

Author:

Efraim Lev (University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel)

Paper short abstract:

Medical notebooks found in the Cairo Genizah that comprise a unique source of historical data for scholarly study and for a better understanding of the ways in which medical knowledge in medieval Egypt was transferred from theory to practice and vice versa.

Paper long abstract:

Medical notebooks found in the Cairo Genizah that comprise a unique source of historical data for scholarly study and for a better understanding of the ways in which medical knowledge in medieval Egypt was transferred from theory to practice and vice versa. These documents provide the most direct evidence we have for preferred practical medical recipes because they record the choices of medical practitioners in medieval Cairo. Since the language most commonly used in them was Judaeo-Arabic, they were evidently written by Jews. The medical genre in the notebooks was primarily pharmacopoeic, consisting of apparently original recipes for the treatment of various diseases. There are also a few notebooks on materia medica. The subject matter of the Genizah medical notebooks shows that they were mostly of an eclectic nature, i.e. the writers had probably learnt about these treatments and prescriptions from their teachers, applied them at the hospitals where they worked, or copied them from the books they read. Foremost among the subjects dealt with were eye diseases, followed by skin diseases, coughs and colds, dentistry and oral hygiene, and gynaecological conditions.

Authors:

Amir Ashur (Ben-Gurion University)
Efraim Lev (University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel)

Paper short abstract:

A newly discovered medical recipe written by Maimonides from the Cairo Geniza sheds light on the medicinal substances he used. We will try to identify these substances and put them in the wide context of medieval medicine.

Paper long abstract:

One of the many medical recipes from the Cairo Geniza collected by Prof. Efraim Lev was identified by Dr. Amir Ashur as probably written by Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher, legalist and physician (1138-1203). The recipe was written to a certain, unknown, person, and his disease in not mentioned either.

The recipe contains various medical substances and plants, including precise description on how to use it. In this paper we will discuss this recipe, identify the substances and plants mentioned and we will try to place it in the wider context of Greek, Arabic and Medieval Mediterranean medicine.

Author:

Carmen Caballero-Navas (University of Granada)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines one of the earliest gynaecological texts produced in Hebrew, Sefer ha-toledet, which is Muscio’s fifth-sixth century abridged and simplified Latin version of Soranus of Ephesus’ Gynaecology, rendered into Hebrew by Doeg ha-Edomi in 1197-1199 in Provence.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines one of the earliest gynaecological texts produced in Hebrew, Sefer ha-toledet, which is Muscio's fifth-sixth century abridged and simplified Latin version of Soranus of Ephesus' Gynaecology, rendered into Hebrew by Doeg ha-Edomi in 1197-1199 in Provence. In it, I explore the reception and accommodation by Doeg ha-Edomi of Soranus' and Muscio's theories on female anatomy, physiology, and disease, and analyse his attitude regarding the ideas and concepts that disagree with Judaism, or challenge some accepted Jewish principles. I also discuss the bearing of rabbinic and Talmudic notions on women's bodies and their functioning in Doeg's approach to gynaecology, and assess their grade of continuity, if any, with the Greek/Hellenistic gynaecological notions collected in Mishnah and Talmud. Finally, I explore the reception of Soranus's adaptations and translations by later Jewish authors and translators, and their fate in Hebrew.

Author:

Esther Fernández (University of Granada)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper we will try to show the peculiarities of the medical and magical outcomes of the Morisco community in early modern Spain as the product of Arabic and Scholastic scientific currents and Muslim-Christian hybridization.

Paper long abstract:

Medical knowledge in Early Modern Spain was connected to arabized Galenism, that is the greek philosophic and medical theory assimilated to arabic scientific tradition.

Based on earlier developments in medicine and pharmacology in al-Andalus, the Moriscos, Muslims converted to Christianity by means of edicts, implemented the principles of galenic medicine in their cures.

The testimonies and healing practices of the Moriscos documented during the sixteenth century show that they were in most cases accompanied with magical and ritual procedures.

This phenomenon, which has been evaluated so far as the consequence of the devaluated Arabic-Muslim culture of al-Andalus is now going through review. It will be claimed as the hybrid product of the confluence of various sociological, cultural and religious levels which led to the originality of the magical and healing practices of the Moriscos.

The galenic theory played a major role in those developments as the basis on which ritual variations and healing procedures were represented in the Morisco practices.