An Arabic manuscript in a digital facsimile edition: Codex Arabicus CXIV: Medical excerpts ascribed to Ibn al-Baytâr. 4º, 118 foll. With notes by Peter Forsskål, member of the Danish expedition to Egypt and Arabia 1761-1767.
The gift symbolizes Denmark’s longstanding interest in the Arab world and, at the same time, reflects the central position of the library in providing access to collections acquired and research achievements.
The manuscript selected was a working tool for the field researcher in the sûqs of Cairo during the 1760’s, one of numerous achievements of the Arabian Journey, the Danish research expedition to Egypt and Arabia 1761-1767. The manuscript now forms part of the Arabic collection of The Royal Library and is the subject of ongoing research into Arabic lexicography of the natural sciences. The manuscript reflects ancient medicine, Arab empirical knowledge of remedies, and the systematic science of the Age of Enlightenment in Europe.
In its digitized form, accessible to everyone, the manuscript thus may serve as a symbol of tradition, field work, collection building, and research with a common Danish-Egyptian scope.
The text of the manuscript consists of pharmacological tables ascribed to Ibn al-Baytâr but in fact compiled from various sources. It was acquired in Cairo in 1761/1762 by Peter Forsskål, the natural scientist attached to the Arabian Journey 1761-1767. Forsskål added annotations concerning the colloquial Egyptian-Arabic pronunciation of the medicaments and also provided botanical identifications according to the system of Carl von Linné, the Swedish pioneer of the systematisation of the natural sciences.
The manuscript is of particular interest with respect to traditional medicine, Egyptian-Arabic lexicography, and the history of science.