The Mirror of Health: Discovering Medicine in the Golden Age of Islam, 1 May to 25 October 2013
An exhibition revealing the development of medical tradition in Europe and the Middle East from the collections of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), in collaboration with Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilization (www.FSTC.org.uk).
1 May to 25 October 2013
First floor gallery exhibition Open Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm Free entry
The Royal College of Physicians holds a rare collection of Islamic medical manuscripts dating from the 13th century.
‘Medicine is a science through which one knows the states of the human body, whether healthy or not, in order to preserve good health when it exists and restore it when it is lacking.' Canon of medicine (al-Qanun fi l-?ibb) by Avicenna (Ibn Sina, 980–1037).
‘I do not think it possible to bring the art of healing small-pox – especially in its initial state – to the same level of perfection as that achieved by al-Razi.'Jean-Jacques Paulet (1740–1826), prominent French physician
There will be an accompanying evening of lectures on 13 May 2013, with an opportunity to view the exhibition, from 5pm.
Islamic medicine drew heavily on ancient Greek knowledge, especially humoral pathology, as classified by the Roman physician, Galen. The story of Islamic medicine is one not only of transmission and translation, but also of innovation and change, evolving over the centuries into a truly sophisticated science.
This exhibition presents the newly researched collection for the first time and explores the medical traditions that developed in the heartland of Islam from the 9th century to the 17th century.
As well as displaying the RCP's rich collection of Islamic medical texts, we have manuscripts and objects on loan from Eton College; the Science Museum, London; Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; and Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge.
In addition, the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilization (www.FSTC.org.uk) have provided valuable advice and support during the development of this exhibition.
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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Introduction of Smallpox Vaccination to Englandby: Dr. Salim Ayduz This short article describes Lady Montagu's efforts in introducing a technique of vaccinating against smallpox; a technique that she learnt from Ottoman Turkey and transported, against some resistance, to the shores of Britain. It was from this knowledge, which had existed for some time in the Muslim lands, that Dr. Edward Jenner was able to develop modern methods of smallpox vaccination.
Little is known about the state of experimentation in the field of medicine during the Medieval Islamic era. With few exceptions, most of the contemporary sources on history of medicine propagate the idea that the roots of experimental medicine in its modern form, including clinical trials and drug-potency studies, first started during the European Renaissance in the 16th to the 18th centuries. This study is part of an ongoing multidisciplinary primary-source investigation of the original Arabic works of 11 Islamic medical scholars who lived and practiced between the 9th and the 13th centuries. The study critically evaluated and documented their contributions to the development of the scientific method and experimental medicine during that medieval Islamic era in several areas including critical appraisal of previous knowledge, clinical observations and case reports, clinical therapeutic trials, drug potency trials, experimentation on animals, dissection and dissection experiments as well as postmortem examinations. In each of the above-mentioned areas, significant contributions were made during the Medieval Islamic era from as early as the ninth century CE.