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Monday, 23 October 2017

Sixth century medical recipe uncovered in St Catherine's Monastery

The medical recipe uncovered is one of the renowned Greek physician Hippocrates

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 5 Jul 2017
new discovery
the newly discovered manuscript
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In a ceremony held at his ministry's headquarters, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany announced the discovery of a very important medical manuscript uncovered by the monks of St Catherine's Monastery in South Sinai during restoration works carried out in the monastery's library.

The ceremony was attended by Greek Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media Nikos Pappas, the Archbishop of Saint Catherine's Monastery, Egyptian Cultural Minister Helmy El-Namnam,  Egyptian Minister of Communication and Information Technology Yasser El-Kadi, Egyptian Minister of Tourism Yehia Rashid, and South Sinai Governor Major General Khalid Fouda.

Mohammed Abdel-Latif, assistant minister of antiquities for archaeological sites, explained that the discovered manuscript is one of those known as "Palmesit" manuscripts, dating to the 6th century AD. The manuscript is written on leather and bears parts of a medical recipe of the renowned Greek physician Hippocrates.

The manuscript has also three other medical recipes written by an anonymous scribe, one of which contains drawings of medicinal herbs of the Greek recipe.

The second layer of writing found on the manuscript is a text of the Bible known as the "Sinaitic manuscript," which spread during the Middle Ages.

Ahmed Al-Nimer, supervisor of Coptic archeology documentation at the ministry, told Ahram Online that "Palmesit manuscripts" are a very well-known type of manuscript written on leather and formed of two layers. The first one, he explained, was previously erased in order to be re-written on the leather again. "This was done due to the high cost of leather at that time," Al-Nimr pointed out.

The monastery of Sainte Catherine's contains many "Palmesit" manuscripts in addition to a library containing 6,000 manuscripts, among them 600 manuscripts written in Arabic, Greek, Ethiopian, Coptic, Armenian and Syriac. They are mainly historical, geographical and philosophical manuscripts and the oldest dates to the 4th century AD.

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