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From Babylon to Baghdad: Toward a History of the  Herbal  in the Near East

From Babylon to Baghdad: Toward a History of the Herbal in the Near East

Objective

Recent publications such as Sylvain Gouguenheim s Aristote au Mont Saint Michel (2008) have called into question the role played by Near Eastern (and especially Arab and Muslim) scholars in the transmission of Greek philosophical, scientific and medical knowledge from antiquity to the middle ages. At the very heart of this problem is the translation movement sponsored by the ¿Abb sid caliphs and wealthy Muslim intellectuals of 8th-10th century Baghdad, and especially its most celebrated protagonist, $unayn ibn Is% q, whose translations from Greek into Syriac and Arabic proved to be foundational. On a superficial level, the questions raised have attracted much media attention, with some critics even evoking the notion of a cultural clash (between the Christian West and the Islamic East). An informed and sober evaluation of this issue is not yet possible, however, since many of the Syriac primary sources shedding light on $unayn s translational activity remain unpublished and therefore inaccessible to historians. The Floriental project will publish the pertinent sources for one particular text genre among $unayn s scientific writings, that of the herbal (defined as a list of plants accompanied by descriptions of their therapeutic properties). Still, $unayn and his school did not work in a vacuum (as he himself admits in his famous Ris la), thus the necessity of a second goal: to contextualize $unayn s herbal writings through the study and publication of other Ancient Near Eastern herbals, not only in Syriac but also in the other languages of ancient scholarship (Babylonian, Greek, Arabic, etc.), and especially those which preceded, and in many respects made possible, $unayn s remarkable translational achievements.
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Principal Investigator

Robert Hawley (Dr.)

Host institution

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

Address

Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris

France

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 1 422 120

Principal Investigator

Robert Hawley (Dr.)

Administrative Contact

Chiara Chelini (Mrs.)

Beneficiaries (1)

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CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

France

EU Contribution

€ 1 422 120

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 263783

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 September 2011

  • End date

    31 August 2017

Funded under:

FP7-IDEAS-ERC

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 422 120

  • EU contribution

    € 1 422 120

Hosted by:

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

France