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Social Science Islamic Studies

The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi

A Facsimile Edition with Critical Essays

by (author) F. Jamil Ragep & Faith Wallis

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2014
Islamic Studies, History, Middle Eastern
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2014
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"Herbals" - collections describing plants used for medicinal purposes - were among the ancient and medieval world's most valued scientific texts, synthesizing a vast treasury of medical learning to facilitate scientific edification for scholar, bibliophiles, or practical consultation by physicians. Abu Ja?far al-Ghafiqi (d. ca. 1165 CE) lived in the Arab-Islamic zone of the southern Iberian peninsula called al-Andalus, a land of many cultures, religions, and languages. His Herbal reflects the diverse milieu in which he lived, drawing from ancient Greek sources like Dioscorides and Galen as well as over thirty other works from India as well as the Hellenistic and Islamic worlds. The manuscript reproduced in this edition was purchased in 1912 by Sir William Osler and is now housed in the Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University. It has entries for herbal, mineral, and animal-derived drugs, illustrated by almost 400 coloured, hand-drawn images of plants and animals. A glossary of over 2,000 secondary entries provides synonyms in Greek, Sanskrit, Syriac, Persian, Berber, Old Spanish, Latin, Coptic, and Armenian, reflecting the international character of medicine and pharmacy at the time. Essays by eminent scholars discuss the physical features and history of the manuscript, the philological complexity of the text, al-Ghafiqi’s sources, the Andalusian and larger global contexts of the Herbal, and the illustrations accompanying the text. A remarkable document, The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi will be a cherished addition to the library of anyone interested in the history of pharmacological science or in the history of the Islamic world.

About the authors

F. Jamil Ragep is Canada Research Chair in the History of Science in Islamic Societies at McGill University.

F. Jamil Ragep's profile page

Faith Wallis is Associate Professor at McGill University, jointly appointed in the Department of History and the Department of Social Studies of Medicine. She is the co-editor of Medieval Science, Technology and Medicine: An Encyclopedia (Routledge, 2005) and the author of essays and translations on medieval science and medicine.

Faith Wallis' profile page

Other titles by F. Jamil Ragep

Other titles by Faith Wallis