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British Society for the History of Pharmacy

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Our events programme covers a wide range of pharmacy history topics.  We hold 3 evening meetings each year, and annual conference, a summer visit, and a joint meeting with a School of Pharmacy.  Click on an event below to find out more.
Online via Zoom and YouTube
Monday 6 December 2021 19:30
Cost: Free

Coptic is the last stage of the indigenous languages of Egypt that was written in the whole Nile Valley, the Delta and the oasis from the end of the third century up to the thirteenth century AD. Especially the corpus of Coptic medical prescriptions offers a multitude of new information on ancient and late antique pharmacy and medicine.

The various recipes offer, on the one hand, extensive knowledge concerning various afflictions, such as eye or skin irritations, internal diseases, or even psychological complaints. On the other hand, the recipes provide an insight into the various drugs which have been used medicinally, as well as their processing and application.

Almost each recipe follows a pattern, with four formal elements containing the mentioned information: 1) the medical indication (or purpose), 2) the (basic) ingredients of botanical, mineral, or animal origin, 3) the procedure and application, and 4) the effects and/or the effectiveness of a remedy.

The presentation covers first a short overview of the material, focuses secondly on the given information concerning the used drugs of botanical, mineral, or animal origin and asks thirdly how the late antique pharmacists and physicians prepared their remedies and against which symptoms and diseases these remedies were applied.

Anne Grons (born 1992) studied Classical and Early Christian Archaeology, Near Eastern Studies, Egyptology and Coptology at the University of Münster from 2010 to 2015 where she was granted her Bachelor and Master degrees in Egyptology. From 2016 to 2020 she was a research assistant/lexicographer at the project Dictionary and Database of Greek Loanwords in Coptic, led by Prof. Dr. Tonio Sebastian Richter at Freie Universität Berlin.

Since 2021 Anne Grons has been a member of the research staff of Prof. Dr. Tanja Pommerening at the Institute of the History of Pharmacy and Medicine (in formation) at Philipps-Universität Marburg. There she is responsible for the coordination of the international working group “Marburger Gespräche zur Alten Heilkunde”, takes care of the library of the institute and supports teaching. (There is, for instance, the possibility for students of pharmacy to attend classes of Tanja Pommerening and Anne Grons in which the students learn about ancient prescriptions and try to cook the ancient remedies by themselves.) From summer 2016 she has been writing her doctoral thesis on Coptic pharmacological texts (which is almost done). The work includes a complete (re-)edition and reassessment of almost all currently known pharmacological texts in Coptic from the early fourth century up to the eleventh century CE.


This event will take place on Zoom (limited capacity) and YouTube. Register to join on Zoom via Eventbrite:


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