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Practical Materia Medica And Its Sources

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Chapter Summary

Much information on medicine and the use of materia medica in medieval period exists, but it is mainly based on vast medical literature of that period, in the East and West. How could we learn about the practical uses of materia medica? How could we reconstruct the diseases that actually afflicted the people in communities under study? And in turn, what were the most prescribed medicines and medicinal substances in eastern medieval society? The best source for such research, focusing on medieval Mediterranean community and supplying information on almost every aspect of life, seems to be Cairo Genizah. The process of learning and analysis of medical fragments of Cairo Genizah led author to devise a method of distinguishing between different groups of information emanating from the fragments. Five groups were discerned: medical books, personal notebooks of medical practitioners, letters of medical practitioners and patients, prescriptions and lists of materia medica.

Keywords:Cairo Genizah; materia medica; medical books; medical fragments; medical practitioners; patients; prescriptions



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