Galen’s Simple Drugs in the Syriac Alchemical Tradition

Paper delivered by Matteo Martelli at the international conference Exploring the Syriac Galen Palimpsest (British Academy Conference 2019)

Abstract. My paper will explore the Galenic material incorporated in alchemical lexica that are included in various two alchemical manuscripts kept at the British Library and at the Cambridge University Library. These lexica, which seem to be based on earlier (both medical and alchemical) sources, provide us with useful information on the identification of vegetal and mineral substances in a technical context, on their varied nomenclature, and even on the symbols or signs that were used to refer to them in manuscripts. This material will be presented and analyzed by providing a new, fresh examination of the manuscript tradition; in addition, their contents will be compared both with Galen’s Byzantine tradition and with other significant Syriac sources, such as the Lexicon by the Christian scholar Bar Bahlul (10th century CE).

October 31 — 1 November 1, 2019, The John Rylands Library, Manchester


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