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Legacies and Prospects in Geniza Studies and the History of Medicine: Reconstruction of the Medical Bookshelf of Medieval (Jewish) Practitioners

Abstract

This essay deals mainly with the future of research on the history of Arabic medicine and pharmacology based on the documents of the Cairo Geniza. It starts with a very brief review of the research of the history of medicine (which was using the Cairo Geniza documents as a main source) until 2003. Later, it presents the work that I and my research group have done during the last fifteen years. Finally, it presents two work-in-progress projects: “Jewish Medical Practitioners in Medieval Muslim Lands” and “Reconstructing the Medical ‘Book Shelf’ of Jewish Practitioners in 11th–14th Century Cairo.” The outcome of the first project will be published soon, and the second one is still at the stage of searching for major funding and building the research group. This second research project aims to study and analyze the hundreds of fragments of medical texts found in the Cairo Geniza. The main source for this research will be about 1,360 Geniza fragments that have been identified as parts of medical books in the Taylor-Schechter collection and several dozen more scattered about in various Geniza collections around the world. Lists of books are another source of unique information about the existence of medical books in the community. Several dozens of such lists of books that were owned by practitioners or other members of the community and sometimes sold after an owner’s death include information on medical books.

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Correspondence to Efraim Lev.

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Lev, E. Legacies and Prospects in Geniza Studies and the History of Medicine: Reconstruction of the Medical Bookshelf of Medieval (Jewish) Practitioners. JEW HIST 32, 559–562 (2019) doi:10.1007/s10835-019-09325-3

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Keywords

  • History
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Geniza
  • Medieval