Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bones for Beginners

Islamic Medical Texts at the National Library of Medicine

Maqalat fi al-‘izam lil-muta‘allimin (MS P 26, item 3) (Treatise on Bones for Beginners)
 مقاله فى العظام للمتعلمين
by Galen (d. ca. 216 AD) جالينوس

According to early Arabic sources, there were sixteen (or fifteen) Galenic treatises, or groups of treatises, that were considered fundamental to medical teaching in pre-Islamic Alexandria and in the early centuries of Islam. These are often referred to as the Alexandrian "Canon" of Galenic treatises. One of these groups of fundamental writings were four short anatomical treatises that were intended as introductory texts in anatomy. The group comprised a treatise on bones for beginners, one on the anatomy of the muscles, one on the anatomy of the nerves, and one on the anatomy of the veins and arteries. see A.Z. Iskandar, "An Attempted Reconstruction of the Late Alexandrian Medical Curriculum," Medical History, vol. 20 (1976), p. 235-258. The present manuscript is a copy of the treatise on bones for beginners, known in Latin as De ossibus ad tirones. For other copies of the Arabic text, see Sezgin GAS III, p. 83-4 no. 7, and Ullmann, Medizin, p. 40 no. 13. The Arabic translation of the treatise has not been published. The original Greek was edited and translated by M.G. Moore, Galen: Introduction to the Bones (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1969). Earlier English translations from the Greek were made by C.M. Goss and E. Goss Chodkowski, " 'On Bones for Beginners' by Galen of Pergamon: a translation with commentary," American Journal of Anatomy, vol. 169 (1984) p. 61-74, and by C. Singer, "Galen's Elementary Course on Bones," Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, Section on History of Medicine, vol. 45 (1952) p. 767-776. The Greek text was published earlier in C.G. Kuehn, Claudii Galeni opera omnia (20 vols., Leipzig, 1821-1833), vol. 2, p. 732-778. see also Gerhard Fichtner, Corpus Galenicum: Verzeichnis der galenischen und pseudogalenischen Schriften (Tübingen: Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, 1985; rev. ed. 1996), p. 17-18 no. 12.

The Arabic and Islamic worlds were doing serious scholarship at a time when Europe and North America were not.  So not.