Saturday,22 July, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1352, (13 - 19 July 2017)
Saturday,22 July, 2017
Issue 1352, (13 - 19 July 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Medical manuscript discovered

CE medical recipe
CE medical recipe

 A sixth-century CE medical recipe by the renowned ancient Greek physician Hippocrates has been found in the St Catherine’s Monastery in South Sinai during restoration work carried out on the monastery’s library.  

Mohamed Abdel-Latif, assistant minister of antiquities for archaeological sites, explained that the manuscript was a palimpsest dating to the sixth century CE. It is written on leather and bears parts of a medical recipe attributed to Hippocrates and contains three other medical recipes written by an anonymous scribe, one of which contains drawings of medicinal herbs used in the Greek recipe. The second layer of writing on the manuscript is a text from the Bible.

Ahmed Al-Nemr, supervisor of the Coptic Archeology Documentation at the ministry, said that palimpsests were often written on leather and were manuscripts in which several layers of writing were present on top of each other. In this case, the first layer of writing had been erased in order that the leather could be used again. “This was due to the high cost of leather at the time,” he said.

The monastery’s library contains many palimpsest manuscripts in addition to its other 6,000 manuscripts, among them 600 written in Arabic, Greek, Ethiopian, Coptic, Armenian and Syriac. They are mainly historical, geographical and philosophical manuscripts, with the oldest dating to the fourth century CE.

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