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Book of the Year Award for Best Scientific Book 2021

4 April 2021
The award has been granted to the book Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, A Literary History of Medicine: The ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ of Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ed. and trl. E. Savage-Smith, S. Swain and G. J. van Gelder with I. Sánchez, N. P. Joosse, A. Watson, B. Inksetter and F. Hilloowala.

The work consists of 5 volumes with a total of 2900 pages, and can be found here

The team of researchers consists of: Emilie Savage-Smith, Simon Swain, Geert Jan van Gelder, Ignacio Sánchez, Alasdair Watson, Bruce Inksetter, Franak Hilloowalla (USA) and CLUE+ affiliated researcher N. Peter Joosse.

A Literary History of Medicine by the Syrian physician Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (d. 1270) is the earliest comprehensive history of medicine. It contains biographies of over 432 physicians, ranging from the ancient Greeks to the author’s contemporaries, describing their training and practice, often as court physicians, and listing their medical works; all this interlaced with poems and anecdotes. These volumes present the first complete and annotated translation along with a new edition of the Arabic text showing the stages in which the author composed the work. Introductory essays provide important background. The reader will find on these pages an Islamic society that worked closely with Christians and Jews, deeply committed to advancing knowledge and applying it to health and wellbeing.

The award will be granted on 4 April 2021, online from Cairo, Egypt by The Institute of Arabic Manuscripts, member of the League of Arab States, United Nations.

To find out more about the project, click here

Dr. N. Peter Joosse
My name is Peter Joosse. I studied Arabic and Syriac-Aramaic under the supervision of professors Hans Daiber and Wim Baars at the VU Amsterdam. From this university, I received an MA and a PhD degree in Semitic languages and cultures. My expertise in Diatessaronic studies won me an invitation to join a team of specially selected scholars working on Gospel Harmonies, led by professors William Petersen and Tjitze Baarda at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences (NIAS Wassenaar, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). There I was fellow-in-residence from 1997-8, and notably explored the connection between Greek, Arabic, Persian and Syriac versions of the Diatessaron. From 1997 to 2002 I joined a project on the 'Cream of Wisdom', a Syriac encyclopaedia of the different sciences authored by the Syriac prelate and polymath Gregory Barhebraeus (d. 1286). In 2003, I joined the University of Leiden as a Senior Research Fellow, where I carried out a study of the life, work and scholarly background of the 13th century Arabic physician Muwaffaq al-Din 'Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi (1162-1231), with a stipend of the leading Dutch medical journal NTvG. In 2010, I joined the University of Warwick (UK) as a Research Fellow to work on al-Baghdadi's commentary of the Hippocratic Prognostic. From 2013-19, I joined the ALHOM medical history project at The University of Oxford as a Sir Henry Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow (Ass. Professor). This project, supervised by professors Emilie Savage- Smith (Oxford) and Simon Swain (Warwick), consisted of an annotated translation and Arabic edition of the 'Book of the Classes of Physicians' by the well-known 13th century Arabic physician Ibn Abi Usaybi'ah.

Besides New Testament Studies (The Arabic Diatessaron), I focus in my research on the Arabic medicine of the so-called 'post-classical period', and more specifically of the 12th and 13th centuries and onwards, for until today there are very few studies investigating how medicine developed in the lands of Islam after the 12th century.