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Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 18:00 to 19:15
The British Academy

Professor Emilie Savage-Smith on Surgeons and Physicians in Medieval Iraq

Annual Bonham-Carter Lecture 2015

Baghdad led the world in medicine and surgery during the Abbasid period. Following organised efforts to determine what earlier societies knew of medical care, Baghdadi physicians produced a rich and innovative medical literature while government officials demonstrated serious interest in public health. Muslim, Christian and Jewish physicians worked together in hospitals and served as court physicians. In this illustrated lecture for BISI,  Professor Emilie Savage-Smith gave examples of the treatments available in Baghdad during the ninth and tenth centuries for ailments such as asthma, hay fever, sore throat, infected tonsils, missing teeth, eye inflammations, cataracts, broken bones, embedded arrowheads, indigestion, diarrhoea, and dislocated shoulders.

Professor Savage-Smith recently retired as Professor of the History of Islamic Science at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University. Her current projects include: The Raised-Up Roof and the Laid-Down Bed: Stars, Maps and History in Medieval Islam  (with Y. Rapoport); a study of the treatment of cataracts in the medieval Islamic world; and A Literary History of Medicine: The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians by Ibn Abi Usaybi`ah (d. 1270), for which Professor Savage-Smith received a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award.

Photo: A physician with two patients painted in Baghdad in 1224, from an Arabic translation of a Greek treatise on medicinal substances (Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institute)