Article ID: CBB742613110

Synchronic and Diachronic Factors Influencing Medieval Arabic Medical Practice: A Study of Ophthalmological Fragments Found in the Cairo Genizah (2022)


This article addresses the practical aspect of medieval Arabic medicine by examining ophthalmological fragments of the Cairo Genizah, written between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. This article deals with two issues: (1) the logic behind the actual preparation of compound medicines and (2) the logic behind the entire treatment process. The first issue is examined by investigating recipes of eye medicines for leucoma (bayāḍ) recorded in genizah notebooks. By examining the four primary qualities of each ingredient, I clarify how the actual prescription of compound medicines has been grounded in the four-quality theory. The second issue is examined from a reading of two genizah letters. These letters suggest that diagnostic theory actually provided the framework for the analysis of the symptoms. The diagnoses determined medieval ophthalmologists' selection of eye medicines and their method of application.

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Authors & Contributors
Langermann, Y. Tzvi
Ricordel, Joëlle
Ventura, Iolanda
Pormann, Peter E.
Mohammed, Mahmoud Al-Haj Kassim
Leung, Danny C. K.
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Aleph: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism
History of Psychiatry
Journal for the History of Arabic Science
Suhayl: Journal for the History of the Exact and Natural Sciences in Islamic Civilisation
Revue d'Histoire de la Pharmacie
Edizioni Cadmo
University of Chicago Press
Arab/Islamic world, civilization and culture
Philosophy of medicine
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Dioscorides, Pedanios
Allbutt, Thomas Clifford
Hunain Ibn Ishaq, Abu Zaid, Al-'Ibadi
Time Periods
12th century
13th century
11th century
19th century
9th century
Mediterranean region
Andalusia (Spain)
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

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