The Independent reports that an ancient text has revealed a surprising connection between medieval Irish doctors and ancient Persia (now Iran) during an important age of Islamic learning. Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin of University College Cork’s Irish Department discovered that doctors in the 1400s were exploiting medical knowledge from Persia. The famous medical text Canon of Medicine by the Persian physician Ibn Sena (980-1037), also known as Avicenna, was used to train doctors in Ireland during the medieval times.
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The spine of the book was found to contain an Irish translation based on a Latin translation of Ibn Sena’s work. Prof Ó Macháin said “the discovery underlined just how much medical scholarship in medieval Ireland was on a par with that on the Continent.” Ó Macháin discovered that an Irish scholar must have travelled overseas to train, and was impressed by Ibn Sena. They decided to work together and used a Latin translation as the basis for an Irish translation.
Because of the importance of the manuscript fragment to the history of Irish learning and medicine, they agreed that the binding be removed from the book by John Gillis of Trinity College Dublin (TCD).
Prof Ó Macháin is quoted as saying, “The use of parchment cut from old manuscripts as a binding for later books is not unusual in European tradition. This is the first time that a case has come to light of such a clear example of the practice in a Gaelic context.”
“The discovery and digitisation of the text was a scholarly adventure,” he goes on. “One of those occasions when many people, not least the owners of the book, were working together towards a common purpose for the cause of pure learning. It was a pleasure to have been able to make it happen and to have been part of it.”
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If you want to learn more about this discovery then read more of the article from Independent!