The Medical Formulary of Al-Samarqandī


Little is known about the author of this treatise on medical remedies, Nağīb al-Dīn Al-Samarqandī, apart from the fact that he was killed during the pillage of Herat (present-day Afghanistan) by the Mongols in 1222. His premature death notwithstanding, al-Samarqandī composed an impressive number of medical treatises dealing with pharmacology, dietetics, toxicology, and ophthalmology, and books on medicine in general. Al-Samarqandī showed a degree of modernity and independent thinking in his treatment of pathology. He appeared to set aside the theory of the four humors of the body dating back to ancient Greek medicine and adopted a more pragmatic approach to therapeutics, one that considered medicine and pharmacology in a broader and more empirical sense. This treatise opens with an investigation of the 15 causes that can make a remedy more or less effective and continues with a systematic description of simple and composite remedies for different kinds of illnesses. Each of the 19 chapters is devoted to a particular remedy, starting with syrups and drinkable medicines and moving on to describe the medical use of remedies found in nature or that can be prepared by the physician.

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32 leaves (21 lines), bound : paper ; 24 x 17 centimeters


  • Paper: yellowed cream; originally split from spine, damage from termites and humidity throughout manuscript; many pages now repaired. Text in black ink, with names of medicines in red, marginal notes on first four leaves. No title page. Nastaʻliq script.

Last updated: September 30, 2016