13th-Century Medical Book in Lane Library Now Digitized

image of a book cover and a page from a book featuring writing in Arabic

Thousands of rare books are housed in The Medical History Center, located in Lane Library. Now you can view the oldest book in the collection online.

The oldest book in the collection is a 13th-century Arabic manuscript that was part of an encyclopedia called “The Comprehensive Book on the Art of Medicine” (الشامل في الصناعة الطبية, al-Shāmil fī l-ṣināʿa al-ṭibbiyya). It was written in Egypt by the polymath physician Ibn al-Nafis as part of a project to encapsulate all the medical knowledge of the Arab world. Lane Library has digitized all three of its volumes of the manuscript, which you can now see online:

You can also find the complete Lane Library online catalog record for this manuscript.

The Historical Curator for the Medical History Center, Dr. Drew Bourn, is currently working on including this digital version in databases of rare Arabic works, such as the Digital Library of the Middle East – a project for which Stanford is a partner.

For more information about this rare 13th-century manuscript, or about other holdings in the Medical History Center, please contact Dr. Drew Bourn at dbourn@stanford.edu.

One comment on “13th-Century Medical Book in Lane Library Now Digitized”

  1. Digitizing historical medical texts not only preserves invaluable knowledge but also makes it accessible to a wider audience. The Lane Library’s efforts in digitizing a 13th-century medical book represent a significant step towards democratizing access to medical history. By making these resources available online, researchers, scholars, and enthusiasts worldwide can delve into the medical practices and knowledge of centuries past. This digitization not only honors the legacy of the manuscript but also ensures that its insights continue to inspire and inform future generations of medical professionals and historians.


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