Byzantine Medical Manuals: Construction and Use

[Completed Project]

Professor Peregrine Horden, Dr Barbara Zipser

Start Date: May 2007; End Date: April 2010
Funding Source: Wellcome Trust; Funding Amount: £129,203

The project is a study in Byzantine medical texts. The Byzantine empire had a vigorous and long-lived medical culture that deserves study in its own right, not just because it was the conduit of ancient medicine to medieval Islam and Europe. Yet very little is known about it. Just a fraction of the over 2,000 Greek medical manuscripts that survive have been properly catalogued and analysed, and this is partly because of their chaotic appearance. However, since they were mostly texts intended to be used, there must have been some principles of construction that would enable the reader to find what he required. The project seeks to uncover those patterns of organisation and show how the texts could have been deployed in a variety of historical settings, educational and therapeutic.