The real stuff: Galen and the Middle East

What did a Greek doctor like Galen know about ancient Arabia, and how did this affect his practice? While the debt of Islamic physicians to Galen is often put forward, representations of the East in his works are scarcely investigated. Yet in his lifelong quest for “the real stuff” of drugs in a world where fraud was rife, Galen used a remarkable range of Eastern substances, some fairly rare and used only as medication. The history of pre-Islamic Arabia and the surrounding countries is best known through ancient Greek and Latin sources. Texts by the likes of Pliny the Elder,...

Read More