Medicine and the Sciences

The Moon

"I know that I am mortal and the creature of a day; but when I search out the massed wheeling circles of the stars, my feet no longer touch the earth but, side by side with Zeus himself, I take my fill of ambrosia, the food of the gods." - Ptolemy.

This is another of our strong collections. We have medical scrolls from the Hall of Rolls in Egyptian Heliopolis, the Temple of Ptah at Memphis, the Temple of Horus at Edfu, and the Temple of Thoth at Hermapolis. These scrolls include information about compresses, anesthetics made from plants, oral medicines, pulverized precious metals and aromatic oils said to attract good deities to patients, and disagreeable remedies made from animal blood, fat, hides, bones, etc. that are said to expel evil spirits, fertility and pregnancy tests, surgical and trepanning techniques, and magical spells. They also include studies of human and animal anatomy, such a novel concept!

We also have Greek works from the great Greek doctors, Hippocrates, Asclepiades, and Erasistratus. Other works come from various medical schools in the Greek-speaking world. There are scrolls from medical schools in Pergamon, Alexandria, Epidauros (the Asklepieion), Rhodes, Cos, Cnidos, and Cyrene. Older texts from Babylonia and Assyria are also included. Carthaginian works, including fine texts on dentistry, and Roman works, such as A. Cornelius Celsus' Medicine, can also be found.

We also have Babylonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman works of agriculture, biology, mathematics, and architecture. We have the 28 agricultural books of Mago of Carthage, both the Latin translation by D. Silanus and the Greek translation by Cassius Dionysius of Utica. We also have Cato the Elder's De Agri Cultura, his treatise on agriculture (c 195 B.C.), Varro's systematic work on agriculture and animal husbandry (especially horses and sheep), L. Junius Moderatus Columella's On Agriculture and Trees, and Pliny [the Elder]'s Natural History. Our works on architecture include the ground-breaking On Architecture, by Vitruvius.

We have a strong astronomy section. We have works of the Babylonian astronomers, Naburiannu and Kidinnu, Babylonian astronomical tables for Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and the Moon, and Chaldean and Egyptian astronomical works. We also have Hesiod's Astronomy, Nautical Astronomy, written by either Thales of Miletus or Phocus of Samos, and Anaximander's (lived 611-546 B.C.) On Nature. In addition, we have works by Pythagoras of Samos (c. 572 B.C.), who was the first known person to propose that the Earth is spherical. He may also have been the one to discover that the Morning Star and the Evening Star were, in fact, the same object. We also have works by Parmenides of Elea (6th century B.C.), who is also said to have been the first one to propose that the Earth is spherical and that the Morning and Evening Stars are really the same object. Theano, the wife of Pythagoras, wrote about mathematics and the sciences. Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (near Smyrna) (c 500 B.C.) proposed that the Moon shines with reflected light from the Sun. Heraclides of Pontus (388 - 315 B.C.), a student of Plato, stated that the apparent daily rotation of the heavenly sphere comes from the rotation of the Earth about its own axis. Aristarchus of Samos (c. 310-320 B.C.) stated that the Earth revolves around the Sun and that the Earth rotates about its own axis. Eratosthenes of Cyrene measured the Earth and found it to be 252,000 stades (7,850 miles in diameter). Hipparchus of Nicaea in Bithynia (active 161 - 126 B.C.) studied the movements of the Sun, Moon, and planets. He held to an Earth-centered system with many epicycles. He made great advances in trigonometry and proposed the idea of the Precession of the Equinoxes.


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