Friday, July 16, 2010

An Odyssey of Knowledge: A New Online Exhibition from the National Library of Medicine

"An Odyssey of Knowledge: Medieval Manuscripts and Early Printed Books from the National Library of Medicine," is a new online exhibition at the National Library of Medicine by visiting curator Dr. Alain Touwaide of the Smithsonian Institution. As described on the exhibition web site:
Medicine in the Old World arose from many components: the classical Greek tradition, its Christian re-elaboration, the contributions of the Arabic World, and the unique medieval synthesis of them all. By examining significant pages and illuminations from manuscripts and early printed books of the National Library of Medicine, one can see how these cultures contributed to the creation of medical knowledge in Europe.
The exhibition is organized by the following sections: Greek Medicine and Science in the Early Middle Ages; The Arabic Contribution; A Crossroad of Knowledge: Southern Italy; The Spread of Translation; From Translation To Teaching; Diffusion; The Return of Greek; and The Many Uses of Books and Texts.

The collections of the National Library of Medicine include 90 Western manuscripts written before 1601. Many of the Library's manuscripts are recorded in Dorothy M. Schullian and Francis E. Sommer, A Catalogue of Incunabula and Manuscripts in the Army Medical Library (1950), and Seymour De Ricci and W.J. Wilson, Census of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in the United States and Canada (1935–1940), with a supplement by C.U. Faye and W.H. Bond in 1962.

Note: The image above depicts an illuminated manuscript initial with two physicians in conversation (Paris, 13th century); it is from the National Library of Medicine's Manuscript E 78, folio 35 recto.

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