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Catalogue: Veterinary Medicine

Blue arrow pointing to the rightA Note on Veterinary Medicine

Animal husbandry was of great importance and had been since ancient times. Most of the preserved literature, however, concerns either hippology (horses) or falconry. Of the latter topic, there are no manuscripts at NLM. However, there are four manuscripts that are concerned with the care of horses and horsemanship.

The Arabic term baytarah was generally used for treatises on hippiatry, that is, those concerned with maintaining the good health of the animals, and furusiyah and 'ilm al-farasah for hippology and equestrianism concerned with the breeding, training, use, and care of horses. The oldest Arabic work dealing solely with general veterinary medicine seems to have been the translation (probably by Isāq ibn unayn) of a treatise on hippiatrics by the 4th century Greek writer Theomnestus of Magnesia, preserved in the Köprülü library in Istanbul (MS 959) and in a copy in Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS arabe 2810); see Sezgin, GAS III, 353-4). Also in Istanbul is an Arabic manuscript on veterinary medicine (Kitāb al-baytara fī sifat al-dawab min al-khayl wa-al-ibil (?) wa ghayreha) translated from Persian in the 9th century (Köprülü Kütüphanesi, MS 959).

The National Library of Medicine has a manuscript on horsemanship attributed to the last of the four Orthodox caliphs, ‘Alī ibn Abī ālib (MS A 71), a treatise on the therapeutic treatments of beasts of burden attributed to the 9th-century translator unayn ibn Isāq (MS A 90, item 2), and two anonymous treatises on the care of horses (MS A 4 and MS A 90, item 3), one of them of considerable importance.

For hippiatrics in the medieval Islamic world, see Robert Hoyland, "Theomnestus of Magnesia, Hunayn ibn Ishaq, and the Beginnings of Islamic Veterinary Science," in Islamic Reflections: Studies in Honour of Professor Alan Jones, ed. By Robert Hoyland and Philip Kennedy [Gibb Memorial Series] (Warminster: Aris & Philips, in press); Mansour Shaki and Sadeq Sajjad, 'Dam-pezeski [veterninary medicine]' in EncIr, vol. 6, pp. 619-23; Herbert Eisenstein, " Las obras árabes de medicina veterinaria: tratados médicos o literature edificante?", in Actas XVI Congreso UEAI, ed. by Concepción Vázquez de Benito and Migue Ángel Manzano Rodríguez (Salamanca: Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacion, 1995). See also, Ernst J. Grube, "The Hippiatrica Arabica Illustrata: three 13th-century manuscripts and related material", in A Survey of Persian Art, ed. by A.U. Pope and P. Ackermann [Proceedings, the IVth International Congress of Iranian Art and Arhaeology, Part A, Vol. XIV] (Oxford: University Press, 1967), pp. 3188-55 and Plates 1523-5; and G. Rex Smith, Medieval Muslim Horsemanship: A Fourteenth-Century Arabic Cavalry Manual (London: The British Library, 1979).

For hippiatrics in the Byzantine world, see M. Doyen-Higuet, "The Hippiatrica and Byzantine veterinary medicine", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 1984, vol. 38, pp. 111-13; and Klaus-Dietrich Fischer, " 'A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!': Versions of Greek Medicine in Medieval Italy", Medizin Historisches Journal, 1999, vol. 34, pp. 123-38.

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