Produced around 512 CE, the Anicia Juliana codex, or Vienna Dioscorides, is the oldest and most beautiful extant copy of the landmark 1st century CE medical botanical and pharmacological treatise by Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician from the ancient region of Cilicia in modern Turkey who served as a military physician for the Roman emperor Nero.
This remarkable copy was made for one of the last princesses of the Roman Empire, Anicia Juliana, and subsequently found its way to the imperial hospital in Constantinople where it was used as a medical guide for almost a millennium. What makes this manuscript particularly invaluable for research is its rich scholia in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, though the required breadth of knowledge and pharmacopeic focus have largely resulted in it being overlooked by scholars.
The goal of this project is to analyze the codex as a part of a larger ecosystem of studying ancient pharmacology and medicine at Yale, first started two decades ago by the ARCHEM Project under Andrew Koh of Yale NELC. Led by Dr. Koh, an international team of scholars is studying and contextualizing its contents based on corroborating evidence from other texts, ethnography, and archaeological evidence, including the archaeochemical analysis of ancient vessels suspected of preserving ancient pharmacological and medicinal concoctions.
Supported by agencies ranging from the NEH to the NSF, the interdisciplinary team includes members from a diversity of backgrounds such as Trevor Luke (Associate Professor, FSU Classics), Janling Fu (PhD Candidate, Harvard NELC), Savannah Bishop (PhD Student, Koç University Archaeology), Ryan Johnson (Teacher, Brooks School Department of World Languages), and Nicholas Kotler (Undergraduate, University of Pennsylvania Ancient History and Chemistry).
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