"Scholars are just beginning to pore over the text, the oldest known copy of Galen’s “On the Mixtures and Powers of Simple Drugs.” It may well provide new insights into medicine’s roots and into the spread of this new science across the ancient world... Little is known of the history of the manuscript in Baltimore, formally known as the Syriac Galen Palimpsest, from its recycling in the 11th century until the 1920s, when it was sold to a private collector in Germany. After that, the manuscript fell again from public view until 2002, when it was purchased by a collector in a private sale. He has not been publicly identified. In 2009, the Galen Palimpsest was lent to the Walters Art Museum for spectral imaging of its leaves by an independent group of specialists, which would reveal the erased Galen undertext. Each page is photographed digitally at extremely high resolution with varying colors and configurations of light, which in various ways illuminate the inks, grooves from writing and parchment itself. Computer algorithms exploit these variations to maximize the visibility of the undertext. The resulting images went online under a “creative commons” license, meaning that anyone can use the material free for any noncommercial purpose. Once the images were online, William Noel, who was the curator of manuscripts and rare books at the museum, began organizing members of the tiny community of scholars who study Syriac scientific texts to study the new material."
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Medicine’s Hidden Roots in an Ancient Manuscript; New York Times, 6/1/15
Mark Schrope, New York Times; Medicine’s Hidden Roots in an Ancient Manuscript: