Inspiring innovation from tradition

When Touwaide and Appetiti's library collection was first shelved at the Smithsonian between 2004 and 2006, it was organized in the three major categories that now make the substance of the Institute: medicine, sciences, humanities, with a major focus on the Mediterranean tradition. In recent years, the collection has grown in an unprecedented way, and the geographical horizon it covers has dramatically expanded. The readers of the Archaia/Nea Newlsetter of the Institute have been constantly informed of the new acquisitions, which made it necessary to revise and redefine the classification used in the shelving of the library material.

After multiple contacts worldwide, visits to other libraries, and much deliberation, Touwaide and Appetiti joined by Intern Cecily Marroquin, now enrolled in a Master program in Anthropology at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., have decided to opt for a classification system close to one of the Library of Congress. Although reshelving books according to this system is a major overhaul (each and every single item is not moved just once, but several times), it will make the structure and the holdings of the collection much clearer, and will make access to the information much simpler and more direct.

This major undertaking goes together with the cataloguing of the holdings in the collection. Based on the cataloguing system of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, the catalogue records all elements of the titles, together with relevant key words and the number of the shelf where the books are stored. Cataloguing started years ago and has been regularly pursued since. As soon as a substantial portion of the collection will be recorded, the catalogue will be accessible through the site of the Institute.

This major operation has also brought to light a certain number of duplicates, which the Institute plans to resell. The list of these books will be posted on the Web site of the Institute. Check it often!

The success of the Institute among the scholarly and scientific communities is increasingly paralleled in its collections. Over the past months, Touwaide and Appetiti have received books and offprints from several colleagues worldwide, including:

Fabio Pierri Pepe, Arturo Tuzzi, Lucio Pierri, L'Arte Farmaceutica Nella Magna Grecia. Taranto (Italy): Edit@ Casa Editrice e Libraria, 2011. [in Italian]

In this lavishly illustrated book, the authors present a large overview of the history of pharmacy in the so-called Magna Grecia, that is, the world of Greek colonies in Southern Italy, with a special focus on Taranto. The book covers the time span from the foundation of Taranto in 706 B.C. by Sparta, up to the 1st century A.D., with such topics as nutrition, the treatment of diseases, the great therapeutic manuals, the materia medica, and the medical school of Taranto.

Kostantinos Georgakopoulos, Greek Asia Minor, 3 volumes with a set of 6 black and white maps. Thessaloniki: Kadmos, 2010 [in Greek].

These splendidly illustrated volumes present the Greek cities of Asia Minor (vol. 1), together with their monuments (vol. 2) and their major historical figures (vol. 3). Cities are ordered by major regions within Asia Minor, monuments are grouped by types/function, and personages by role/profession. Each such unit is dealt with in a specific chapter, and all such chapters are listed in alphabetic order, creating a dictionary of historical geography. Maps, photographs, bibliographical references and other useful details add to the value of this reference work. The additional maps detail the physical geography of Asia Minor, the cities and monuments and the colonies founded by Asia Minor cities; the other three provide the same information for specific regions within Asia Minor. One would wish the work were translated into English.

Prof. Indalecio Lozano, University of Granada, Spain, donated to the Institute a collection of a dozen of his publications (in the form of offprints) aimed to document the uses of cannabis in Arabo-Islamic medicine, history and culture. Besides publishing previously unknown sources, Dr. Lozano compiled much information directly from primary sources, offering a first synthesis in the following article (included in his donation):

Indalecio Lozano, "The Therapeutic Use of Cannabis sativa (L.) in Arabic Medicine", Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics 1 (2001): 63-70.

IPMT’s member Justo Hernández, Professor at the University of La Laguna (Canary Island, Spain), sent offprints of some of his recent publications. Of particular interest here are the following two articles:

Justo Hernández, "A New Renaissance Medical Controversy: Sixteenth-Century Polemics about Cold-Drinking", in Dave Collard, Jim Morris, and Elisa Perego (eds.), Food and Drink in Archaeology 3.University of Notthingham Postgraduate Conference 2009. Totnes (U.K.): Prospect Books, 2011: 47-54.

The paper discusses Spanish medical texts written between 1555 and 1576 related to the issue of cold-drinking, which was condemned by medieval physicians on the basis of the classical theory on bodily heat.

Justo Hernández, "A Comprehensive Biography of the First Doctor in America: Diego Álvarez Chanca (circa 1450-post 1515)", Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos 58 (2012): 29-49.

Biographical essay on Diego Álvarez Chanca, which covers all aspects of his life, rather than focusing on one of his achievements, as in previous literature. We learn that Álvarez Chanca earned a doctorate in medicine possibly from the University of Salamanca, was the physician of the kings of Spain, moved to America (1493-95), and came back to Spain, where he settled in Sevilla.

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