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A Persian edition of the ‘Cannon of Medicine’ at Avicenna’s mausoleum in Hamedan
A Persian edition of the ‘Cannon of Medicine’ at Avicenna’s mausoleum in Hamedan

National Library Will Unveil Source of Avicenna’s Reference

In his book, Ibn Samjun mentions the names of herbs in alphabetical order, describing their morphology and medicinal properties. He relied heavily on classical authors, readily giving quotations from their works

National Library Will Unveil Source of Avicenna’s Reference

National Library and Archives Organization of Iran will unveil the Persian edition of a book referred to by distinguished Iranian polymath and physician Avicenna (980-1037) when writing his seminal works ‘Cannon of Medicine’ and ‘Book of Healing.’
A ceremony will be held in the near future at the National Library to unveil the first chapter of ‘Jami al-Adwiya al-Mufrada,’ written before Avicenna’s books came into being, Mehr News Agency reported.
‘Jami al-Adwiya al-Mufrada’ is a medical encyclopedia collected by Andalusian herbalist Abu Bakr Hamid commonly known as Ibn Samjun (died 1001), an expert in the art of Unani medicine, originated in the teachings of the Greek physicians Hippocrates (460-375 BC) and Galen (129-216 AD) and based on the classical four humors: phlegm (balgham), blood (dam), yellow bile (safra) and black bile (sauda).
In his book, Ibn Samjun mentions the names of herbs in alphabetical order, describing their morphology and medicinal properties. He relied heavily on classical authors, readily giving quotations from their works.
Unlike Ibn Samjun, Avicenna, the last major contributor to Unani medicine, seems to have been reluctant in giving references. For years, scholars were in search for the sources behind his ‘Cannon of Medicine.’  
Even German physician and expert in Oriental studies Max Meyerhof (1874-1945) with expertise in medieval Islamic medicine, was convinced in 1940 that there is no earlier extant reference that could have served as a basis for the Cannon of Medicine.
But several years later, Turkish orientalist Fuat Sezgin, 92, specializing in the history of Arabic-Islamic science, found three editions of Ibn Samjun’s ‘Jami al-Adwiya al-Mufrada,’ the book he believes to be a major reference used by Avicenna in writing of the Cannon of Medicine.
Sezgin found one of the editions at the British Library, the national library of the UK; one at the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford; and the other at Ahmet Salis Library in Istanbul.
Comparing the editions with the Cannon of Medicine, Sezgin concluded that Ibn Samjun’s writings were referred to by Avicenna when writing his famous book.
However, the book to be unveiled at the National Library is based on a fourth edition discovered recently at an old library in Tabriz, East Azarbaijan. Experts and scholars of the National Library believe the Tabriz manuscript of Jami al-Adwiya al-Mufrada to be of great significance. According to them, the manuscript will be brought out as a complementary work to the three editions found earlier. 

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