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Medieval European doctors used medical knowledge from Muslim physicians: Irish Manuscript

Ó Macháin's findings came after he became aware of a book in the possession of a family in Cornwall with links to Ireland

Tuesday March 5, 2019 8:40 PM, ummid.com News Network

Irish Manuscript About Islamic Medicine

Cork City (Ireland): A new discovery of a medieval Irish manuscript from the 15th century AD has revealed that then European doctors extensively used medical knowledge from the Muslim physicians to get trained in the field.

“We found that our medieval European doctors in Ireland during the 1400s were exploiting medical knowledge from the Muslim physicians and biologists of the Islamic World,” Irish News reported quoting Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin from the University College Cork’s Irish department.

The new discovery established that the worldwide famous Islamic medical text ‘Canon of Medicine’, written by the famous medieval Muslim Persian polymath ‘Avicenna’ [Also pronounced as 'Avicennia', Ibn Sina in Arabic], was in use in Ireland during the medieval times for training young European doctors.

Ó Macháin's findings came after he became aware of a book in the possession of a family in Cornwall with links to Ireland. He was specifically interested in the binding of the book. This was a sheet, full of text in Irish, cut from a 15th-century Irish vellum manuscript, that had been trimmed and folded and stitched to the spine of the printed book in order to form a sturdy binding.

“This typical use of parchment cut from old manuscripts as a binding for later books wasn’t unusual in the European tradition,” Ó Macháin explained. However, he assured this was the first time that a case had come to light of such a clear example of the practice in a Gaelic context.

The use of parchment cut from old manuscripts as a binding for later books was not unusual in European tradition, Prof Ó Macháin said. But this was the first time that a case had come to light of such a clear example of the practice in a Gaelic context.

From photographs of the binding supplied by the owners, Prof Ó Macháin established that the Irish text was a medical one.

"A quarter of what survives of late-medieval manuscripts in the Irish language is medical in content, an indication of the practical purpose of these books in Ireland of the time," he said.

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