Medieval Islamic Medicine

Peter E. Pormann and Emilie Savage-Smith

"The authors take a fresh approach and offer imaginative conclusions."
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The medical tradition that developed in the lands of Islam during the medieval period (c. 650-1500) has, like few others, influenced the fates and fortunes of countless human beings. It is a story of contact and cultural exchange across countries and creeds, affecting many people from kings to the common crowd. This tradition formed the roots from which modern Western medicine arose. Contrary to the stereotypical picture, medieval Islamic medicine was not simply a conduit for Greek ideas, but a venue for innovation and change.

Medieval Islamic Medicine is organized around five topics: the emergence of medieval Islamic medicine and its intense crosspollination with other cultures; the theoretical medical framework; the function of physicians within the larger society; medical care as seen through preserved case histories; and the role of magic and devout religious invocations in scholarly as well as everyday medicine. A concluding chapter on the "afterlife" concerns the impact of this tradition on modern European medical practices, and its continued practice today. The book includes an index of persons and their books; a timeline of developments in East and West; and a section on further reading.

Table of Contents


Notes of Transliteration, Dates, and General Format

List of Illustrations


1. The Emergence of Islamic Medicine

2. Medical Theory

3. Physicians and Society

4. Practice

5. Popular Medicine

6. Afterlife



Index of Persons and Works

General Index


"Without question, this volume can be considered the best and most critical introduction to the field and a guide for future research. . . . Anyone interested in the history of Islamic science will find this a useful book to own."—American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

"The authors take a fresh approach and offer imaginative conclusions."—ISIS

"An outstanding contribution to a very important field. While there has been a great deal of new research on premodern medical texts from the Islamic world, there are few surveys written for a broader public. This text will make a lasting contribution to the history of science in general, and to the study of premodern Islamic medicine in particular."—Jonathan Brockopp, Director, Program in Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University


Supplemental Materials


Co-winner of the 2008 Book Prize in Middle Eastern Studies of the British-Kuwait Friendship Society

About the Author

Peter E. Pormann is a Wellcome Trust Lecturer in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick. He is the author of The Oriental Tradition of Paul of Aegina's 'Pragmateia' and Al-Kindi's Philosophical Works.

Emilie Savage-Smith is professor of the History of Islamic Science at the Oriental Institute and a senior research fellow of St. Cross College, both at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Magic and Divination in Early Islam and Science, Tools, and Magic.

240 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-160-1
Mar 2007
Only for sale in the U.S. and Canada

240 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-161-8
Mar 2007
Only for sale in the U.S. and Canada

240 pp.

Mar 2007
Only for sale in the U.S. and Canada

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