Hidden manuscript shows Medieval Ireland knew about Middle Eastern Medicine

The “Canon of Medicine”, a highly popular text, represented a synthesis of medical knowledge from Greco-Roman, Persian & Indian sources

A late medieval manuscript containing an Irish translation of Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine has been found hidden in the binding of a 16th century book, according to The Guardian.

This remarkable discovery casts new light on the degree of connectivity between medieval Irish scholarship and scientific developments across the rest of Europe and the Middle East.

The manuscript was found inside the binding of a Latin administrative manual, published in Cornwall in the 1530s. In this period, bookbinders often used old pieces of parchment or vellum as scrap material when creating the bindings for new books.

It seems that this important medieval manuscript was cut down to size, folded and stitched into the spine of the 16th century book, acting as a support for the binding.

The book has been in the possession of the same family in Cornwall for almost 500 years, but it was not until they noticed the unusual binding that the Irish manuscript was discovered.

They photographed the vellum fragments and sent them to Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin, an expert on Irish manuscript tradition at the University of Cork.

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He immediately realized that the manuscript was particularly significant, describing the discovery as a hugely exciting moment, writes The Guardian.

Professor Aoibheann Nic Dhonnchadha, of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, analyzed the text and confirmed that the document was a partial fragment of an Irish translation of Ibn Sina’s seminal work on medieval Islamic medicine.

Read more: The Vintage News

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