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The Significance of the Genizah's Medical Documents for the Study of Medieval Mediterranean Trade

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The medical texts in the Genizah have been analyzed mainly as part of other subjects, like the various professional classes within the Jewish community in Old Cairo. Until now few have studied these documents in their own right, despite the fact that they offer valuable insights into the medieval economy of the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond. Focussing on saffron and myrobalan, this article offers a tentative investigation of the significance of medical drugs for the study of Mediterranean trade in the Middle Ages on the basis of practical medical fragments found mainly at the Taylor-Schechter collection in Cambridge. L'exploitation des textes médicaux de la Geniza a surtout servi aux sujets tels que les divers groupes professionnels de la communauté juive du vieux Caire. Jusqu'à présent de rares chercheurs ont étudiés ces manuscrits pour leur valeur intrinsèque. Pourtant, leur lecture permet d'approcher d'autres aspects de l'économie médiévale de la Méditerranée orientale et au-delà. Cette contribution, qui traite des drogues médicales, particulièrement le safran et le myrobalan, propose une première recherche sur l'importance des drogues médicales dans l'étude du commerce méditerranéen au Moyen-Âge. Elle est fondée sur les manuscrits incomplets traitant des pratiques médicales conservés principalement dans la collection Taylor-Schechter à Cambridge.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archeology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel;, Email:; 2: Department of Eretz Israel Studies and School of Public Health University of Haifa, Haifa University;, Email:


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