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Lecture | Studium Generale

Papyrus, roses and a sea cat: the Leiden Dioskurides

Tuesday 9 April 2024
Lecture in Dutch
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
019 and online

The Greek physician Pedanius Dioskurides lived in the first century AD. Not much is known about his life, but his book on plants, their medicinal uses and other useful functions would become the basis for herbalism not only in Europe, but also in the Middle Eastern world. It is known as Materia Medica.
The book was translated into Arabic in the 9th century, and has been regularly updated since then. Arab physicians and pharmacologists used it intensively. Manuscripts of the text are often beautifully illustrated. The Leiden Manuscript, Or. 289, is a showpiece in that respect: filled with beautiful illustrations not only of plants, but also of animals. It was written in Samarkand, "on a Monday in the middle of Ramadan, in the year 475", that is, in February 1083 of our era. It is one of the highlights of the Leiden collections.

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