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  • Who: Dioscorides

  • What: First documented herbal / medicinal book

  • Where: Unknown

The earliest collection of written articles about medicinal herbs and plants is the De Materia Medica, compiled by the Greek surgeon, Pedanios Dioscorides, in approximately 77 AD.

Dioscorides was a Greek physician from modern-day Turkey who gathered his information during travels through Europe and North Africa with the Roman army of Emperor Nero. De Materia Medica was originally written in Greek, and was separated into five sections which covered the themes of: (1) medicinal plants, (2)animals, dairy products and cereals (e.g honey, milk), (3)herbs, juices, (4)herbs, roots, (5) wine and minerals (e.g mercury, arsenic). The work covers almost 600 different plants including cannabis, water hemlock and peppermint, as well as 1,000 basic drugs such as mandragora as an anesthetic. It remained the authority on medicinal plants for over 1,500 years. No orignial copy of the herbal exists, therefore it is not sure whether or not the work was illustrated. The oldest known copy of his work is the Juliana Anicia Codex (Codex Vindobonensis)of 512 AD which is maintained in the Austrian National Library in Vienna. This, like the 7th century copy, Codex Neapolitanus at the Biblioteca Nazionale in Naples, Italy does contain illustrations. Alternative spellings for Pedanios are Pedacius and Pedanius (40-90 AD).

 

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