Babylonian Medicine

Freie Universität Berlin

[agade] WEBS: The medical corpus of the Cairo Genizah

The Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University Library would like to announce the successful completion of the project ‘Medicine in medieval Egypt: creating online access to the medical corpus of the Cairo Genizah’, funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant & Provision for Public Engagement (105086/Z/14/Z).

Among the 350,000 fragments of medieval manuscripts retrieved from the Genizah of the Ben Ezra synagogue in Fustat (Old Cairo) are almost 2,000 leaves dealing with medicine, the medical profession and health problems. This material was discarded into the Genizah, a storage room for preserving worn-out sacred texts, but that was actually used to dispose of all kinds of written items including a very important cache of material related to the sciences. Dating mostly from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, these fragments written in Hebrew, Arabic and Judaeo-Arabic (Arabic language in Hebrew letters) are a highly significant source for studying the transmission of medical knowledge and the actual practice of medicine in the Middle Ages.

Thanks to a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant, all these fragments are now available as high-quality images on Cambridge University’s Digital Library and have been provided with updated cataloguing descriptions.

The outcomes of the project can be found on a dedicated webpage of the Genizah Research Unit website:

The page includes:

  1. a) a search engine for discovering the medical material preserved in the Cambridge Genizah Collections. The engine has the capability of searching through the updated catalogue of the medical fragments, retrieving results by keywords. High-quality images of the fragments can be viewed online on CUDL (Cambridge University Digital Library) or downloaded for study and research;
  2. b) ‘Beneficial, if God Wills!’: an introductory video focussing on the riches of the medical corpus of the Genizah;
  3. c) ‘A Brush with History’: a documentary showing the complex and painstaking process of conservation of Genizah fragments at Cambridge University Library;
  4. d) Links to two virtual exhibitions on medicine in the Genizah: ‘The Fame of Avicenna’s Canon: a view from the Cairo Genizah’ and ‘Recipes, Prescriptions and Drugs from Medieval Egypt’;
  5. e) links to a collection of the Genizah Unit’s Fragment of the Month: short articles on medical topics;
  6. f) a bibliography of scholarly publications on medicine in the Genizah and useful reference works.

We are looking forward to your feedback. Please, contact the Genizah Unit ( or Dr. Gabriele Ferrario ( with comments and queries.


-first posted on AGADE June 19, 2017-

Der Beitrag wurde am Tuesday, den 27. June 2017 um 09:43 Uhr von Till Sören Kappus veröffentlicht und wurde unter Allgemein abgelegt. Sie können die Kommentare zu diesem Eintrag durch den RSS 2.0 Feed verfolgen. Kommentare und Pings sind derzeit nicht erlaubt.

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