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Catalogue: Translations of Earlier Sources

Alexandrian Summaries      Hippocratic Writings      Galen

Blue arrow pointing to the right Jawāmi‘ Kitāb Jālīnūs fī al-bawl wa-dalā’ilihi   (MS A 84, item 3)
(A Summary of the Book of Galen on urine and its diagnostic signs)
جوامع كتاب جالينوس فى البول ودلايله
based on the writings of Galen (d. ca. 216 AD)

The Jawāmi‘ al-Iskandaraniyin, or Summaries of the Alexandrians, known in Latin as Summaria Alexandrinorum, were a series of summaries or synopses of some of Galen's medical treatises. Most scholars have associated the jawami‘ with the sixteen (or fifteen) Galenic treatises that were considered fundamental to medical teaching in pre-Islamic Alexandria and in the early centuries of Islam and were read in their entirety. The jawāmi‘, or summaries, that are preserved cover not only the treatises that were considered part of the "canon" of sixteen Galenic treatises, but also a number of other treatises by or attributed to Galen. See A.Z. Iskandar, "An Attempted Reconstruction of the Late Alexandrian Medical Curriculum," Medical History, vol. 20 (1976), p. 235-258; and Ullmann, Medizin, p. 65-67 and the Appendix on p. 343; and Sezgin GAS III, p. 140-150.

See also, E. Savage-Smith, 'Galen's Lost Ophthalmology and the Summaria Alexandrinorum, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Supplement 77 (2002), pp. 121-38; and Beate Gundert, 'Die Tabulae vindobonenses als Zeugnis alexandrinischer Lehrtätigkeit um 600 n. Chr.', in Text and Tradition: Studies in Ancient Medicine and its Transmission, presented to Jutta Kollesche, edited by Klaus-Dietrich Fischer, Diethard Nickel, and Paul Potter (Studies in Ancient Medicine, 18; Leiden, 1998), pp. 91-144.

The Galenic treatise On Urine (Peri ouron) is not one of the canonical sixteen treatises by Galen. The Greek treatise may be falsely attributed to Galen; it is printed in C.G. Kuehn, Claudii Galeni Opera Omnia (Leipzig, 1821-33; repr. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1965) volume 19, p. 574-601. There is no Arabic translation of the complete treatise preserved, but there are a number of copies of the summary (jawāmi‘) extant today.

Several of the Arabic copies (such as Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Turk.e.33, item 5, and London, British Library, OIOC MS Or. 5862, item 7) are illustrated with drawings of urine flasks and have the text written in a diagrammatic format employing branch-diagrams. These branch diagrams (called in Arabic tashjir, "ramification", from a root meaning "to plant with trees") organized the information into a form clearly delineating categories, divisions, and subdivisions, as an aide-memoire, and they are often associated with the so-called "Alexandrian Summaries" of Galen's treatises. This technique of diagramming was later introduced into the Latin West, where from the 12th century it was frequently employed in discourses on the classification of the sciences or other scientific topics. Modern scholars have called the Latin branch-diagrams "dichotomies" to distinguish them from "arbores" or tree-diagrams in which material was written in small cells arranged within the outline of a large tree having a trunk and root at the bottom. The earliest instance of an arbor-diagram occurs in a 9th-century copy of the Latin treatise Etymologies written in the 7th century by Isidore of Seville. While it is evident that in the 9th century branch-diagrams were being used in Arabic treatises (possibly continuing a now lost Alexandrian tradition) and tree-diagrams were being used in the Latin West, the two techniques of diagramming are sufficiently different as to suggest independent traditions. The Arabic method transferred to Europe, while the Latin one remained restricted to Western compositions. For branch-diagrams and tree-diagrams, see John E. Mordoch, Album of Science: Antiquity and the Middle Ages (New York: Charles Scribner, 1984), p. 38-51.

The copy now at NLM was made in the middle of the 16th century and does not have the tashjir or branch-diagram format associated with some of the other copies. Additional copies of the Arabic jawāmi‘ are preserved in Oxford and London (as noted above) and also in the Vatican (arab. cod. 1662, fol. 53b-63b). It is possible that copies are also contained in the following manuscripts, though insufficient information is available in the printed catalogues to confirm the content: Florence, Med.-Laurent. Or. MS 235 copied in Cairo in 1238/636H; Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, Arabic MS 4844 item 2; and Cairo, Dar al-Kutub MS 1783 tibb. A Judeo-Arabic copy --- that is, Arabic written in Hebrew script --- is also preserved in the Vatican (hebr. cod. 369, fol. 69a-82a). A Hebrew translation of the summary (along with summaries of other Galenic treatises) was made in 1322 by Shimshon ben Shlomo and is preserved today in several copies; see Ullmann, Medizin, p. 67, and Elinor Lieber, "Galen in Hebrew: the transmission of Galen's works in the mediaeval Islamic world" in Galen: Problems and Prospects: A Collection of Papers Submitted at the 1979 Cambridge Conference (London: Wellcome Institute, 1981), p. 167-186.

Jawāmi‘ Kitāb Jālīnūs fī al-bawl wa-dalā’ilihi   (MS A 84, item 3)


Folio 41 from MS A 84 which begins the summary of a treatise Jawāmi‘ Kitāb Jālīnūs fī al-bawl wa-dalā’ilihi (A Summary of the Book of Galen on urine and its diagnostic signs) based on the writings of Galen. The beige lightly-glossed paper has single chain lines and watermarks, and is waterstained. The text is written in a small compact naskh script, with some ligatures. Black ink with headings in red and red overlinings.
MS A 84, fol. 41a

The beginning of the summary (jawāmi‘) of a treatise said to be by Galen on urine and its diagnostic signs.

Physical Description

Arabic. 3 folios (fol. 41a, line 2 - 44a). Dimensions 20.8 x 14.5; text area 14.2 x 7.5 cm; 23 lines per page. The title appears on fol. 41a, line 2, and in the colophon, fol. 44a, line 21. The author of the synopsis is not named; the treatise being epitomized is attributed in the title to Galen. The treatise was earlier incorrectly described by Sommer as a treatise on bubonic plague (Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., p. 325).

The treatise was copied by the same copyist who transcribed the other four items in the volume. In the colophon to the first item (fol. 39a) it is stated that the transcription (naql) was completed at the beginning of the month of Sha‘ban 971 H [= March 1564] by a copyist named Mas‘ūd ibn Mas‘ūdd ibn ‘Alī, known as (mulaqqab bi-) Kamāl al-Dīn al-Kirmānī.

The text is written in a small compact naskh script, with some ligatures. Black ink with headings in red and red overlinings. Catchwords. The leaves have been frame-ruled, and sometimes the final letters of a word at the end of a line are written at a distance outside the ruling line.

The beige lightly-glossed paper has single chain lines and watermarks. The paper is waterstained, and the edges have been trimmed from their orignal size.

The volume consists of 59 leaves. Fols. 1a-39a (MS A 84, item 1) contain a medical compendium by Mas‘ūd ibn Muammad al-Sijzī; fols. 39b-41a (MS A 84, item 2) contain a treatise falsely attributed to Hippocrates; fols. 41a-44a have a synopsis of a treatise here catalogued; and fols. 44b-46a a tract by al-Rāzī (MS A 84, item 4) and fols. 46a-59b an anonymous medical manual and an anonymous medical guide (MS A 84, item 5). All the items are copied by the same copyist.


The volume is bound in a modern library binding of brown leather over boards. Modern pastedowns and endpapers.


The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A.S. Yahuda (ELS No. 1708; Med. 19).


Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS, p. 325 entry A 84, item 3, where it is incorrectly stated to be "Collections from Galen's Book on the bubonic plague and its symptoms";

Hamarneh, "NLM", p. 80, where Sommer's identification is corrected.

NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-17 no. 4

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