Historia Plantarum History of Medicine and Ancient Botany Library

The chair can make use of the library of the history of medicine and ancient botany Historia Plantarum created by Alain Touwaide and Emanuela Appetiti.

Although constantly based on the consultation of ancient manuscripts and printed editions sixteenth or seventeenth century, the library does not contain these documents, owned by prestigious libraries such as the Vatican Library for example. Nevertheless, the library includes a number of reproductions, facsimilars, microfilms, slides, and digital images of Greek, Latin and Arabic manuscripts, as well as herbaria printed from the XV° to the XVII° century, all preserved in libraries around the world. This collection of reproductions of ancient manuscripts and books is completed by an exhaustive inventory of the Greek manuscripts of medicine compiled by Alain Touwaide and from a constantly updated list of the manuscripts reproductions available in Internet. This resource allows you to have a direct access to the historical documentation of the libraries of the world without having to travel for consulting the manuscripts one by one in libraries, where, moreover, it is not possible to compare similar manuscripts owned by other institutions.

This collection which is the sum of ancient experience and his own assimilation into modern science, is accompanied by monographs, articles and modern scientific journals.

The monographs are printed works from the early 19th century to the present in various languages (mainly English, French, Italian and Spanish, but also modern Greek, Turkish, Russian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian and Chinese). The articles, on the other hand, are original scientific contributions published in a wide range of scientific journals from the XX° century onwards in the major European languages. Monographs and articles mainly contain the following:

  1. the currently available printed versions of the Greek, Latin and Arabic medical texts produced from antiquity to the Renaissance and beyond, many of which also contain the translation of the text in a modern language (English, Italian, French, Spanish and even Russian, for example), in addition to explanations and interpretations intended to facilitate the consultation of the texts and their use in research. The reproductions of manuscripts (above) complete this collection as many of the relevant texts for the research have not been published in a printed version and should therefore be read in manuscripts from which they were transmitted from the time of their writing to today;
  2. studies relating to these texts, particularly scientific studies that deal with the technical content of texts (mainly botanical, medical, pharmacognostic);
  3. manuals and instrumenta studiorum in ancillary disciplines necessary for exact reading understanding and correct interpretation of texts: from philology (with multiple language dictionaries classical) to the history and history of science, including archeology, archaeobotany or paleopathology for example;
  4. the flora of all the Mediterranean countries, with studies relating to the climate, the environment and the landscape with the their history, especially their transformations over the centuries and the impact of these transformations on natural resources, especially plants;
  5. studies on traditional medicinal uses of Mediterranean plants (from pharmacognosy to pharmacology and drug discovery), as well as ethnobotany of the Mediterranean world and more generally, the ethnobotany of various cultures around the world as a tool for the analysis of Mediteterranean therapeutic traditions;
  6. specialized studies on the uses of plants other than medicinal ones, such as food, cosmetics, or cheap. The library is particularly rich in the history of food in the world Mediterranean, with the contributions of all the cultures that have been present in the region: Greek, Latin, Arab, Jewish and also Turkish and, later, the contribution of the New World;
  7. analysis of the various forms of natural medicine of the Mediterranean world over the centuries, with use of all natural resources (in addition to plants, animals and their parts, minerals, and products derived from wine to preparations of all kinds), perfumes and oils, as well as other therapeutic techniques such as balneotherapy, aromatherapy or crystal therapy;
  8. history of botanytherapeutics and phytotherapeuticmedicine and pharmacy, with particular attention to the Mediterranean world. This section also includes other forms of therapy such as homeopathy and non-Western medicines, such as traditional Chinese medicine, i.e. historical, Ayurveda and Tibetan medicine;
  9. historical studies on the transmission of ancient texts of pharmacotherapy, history of their use and their study, history of medical schools (including the Salerno medical school, for example) e of medical-pharmaceutical teaching, intellectual history and history of the classical tradition. A particularly abundant section on this subject is the one dedicated to catalogs and the study of ancient manuscripts.

The monographs and articles are accompanied by a significant collection of reference works: encyclopedias and historical dictionaries, either the most recent works that make up the sum of knowledge on basis of advanced scientific and humanistic research, either the classics on the subject. In addition to encyclopedias of historical sciences from antiquity to the Renaissance, this collection contains dictionaries of the history of science, medicine, science and ideas, for example.

Scientific journals complete the library, with with more than 40 titles and a total of approx. 5,000 files that allow you to orient the contemporary activity in all disciplines of the research, from the study of manuscripts to ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology. Particularly interesting the interrupted newspapers we obtained in the completed collection.

In addition, the library contains archives on the following topics:

  1. medicinal plants: this archive contains folders with information, as old as modern, relating to plants mentioned in ancient texts: ancient texts with the description of plants and their uses, classical and modern literature on plants, modern scientific articles on pharmacognosy, ethnobotany and pharmacology, as appropriate, with any kind of relevant information (including also, and for example, symbolism, artistic representations or religious uses). The archive is organized according to the alphabetical order of the ancient names of plants, with a concordance table between names ancient and modern (current scientific taxonomy);
  2. ancient doctors and pharmacists: for each recognized character in ancient scientific literature (Greek, Latin and Arabic) as a doctor, pharmacist or health worker (from healers and midwives to herbalists, for example), this archive contains a folder with the information currently available. It is classified by historical periods (antiquity, Byzantium, Arab world, Middle Ages, Renaissance, XVI° and XVII° century, and Ottoman Greek world) and organized according to the alphabetical order of the names of characters.
  3. manuscripts with relevant texts and printed herbaria (XV°–XVII° century): this archive contains a folder for each manuscript and book that transmits one or more texts relating to the use of plants and others natural resources (therapeutic, food, cosmetic and even veterinary uses). It is divided by historical periods and contains one folder per document. For the manuscripts, the folders are classified according to the alphabetical order of the names of the cities and libraries where the manuscripts are kept; for the printed herbaria, are classified according to the alphabetical order of the author’s names.
  4. ancillary historical disciplines: historians of medicine and erudition and classical tradition, codicology and paleography, history of medicine, pharmacy and botany.

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