The mirror of health: discovering medicine in the golden age of Islam

An exhibition revealing the development of medical tradition in Europe and the Middle East from the collections of the Royal College of Physicians

1 May to 25 October 2013

First floor gallery exhibition
Open Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm

Free entry

Last chance to see this amazing exhibition, closing 25 October!

Special promotion: The exhibition catalogue is now on sale. Half price for all visitors, available at reception or buy online.

‘Definitely a must see’ (One Stop Arts review, June 2013)

The Royal College of Physicians holds a rare collection of Islamic medical manuscripts dating from the 13th century onwards.

This exhibition presents the newly researched collection for the first time and explores the medical traditions that developed in the heartland of Islam from the 9th century to the 17th century.

As well as displaying the RCP's rich collection of Islamic medical texts, manuscripts and objects are on loan from Eton College; the Science Museum, London; Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; and Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge.

Islamic medicine drew heavily on ancient Greek knowledge, especially humoral pathology, as classified by the Roman physician, Galen. The story of Islamic medicine is one not only of transmission and translation, but also of innovation and change, evolving over the centuries into a truly sophisticated science.

‘Medicine is a science through which one knows the states of the human body, whether healthy or not, in order to preserve good health when it exists and restore it when it is lacking.’ Canon of medicine (al-Qānūn fī l-Ṭibb) by Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā, 980–1037). 

‘I do not think it possible to bring the art of healing small-pox – especially in its initial state – to the same level of perfection as that achieved by al-Rāzī.’ Jean-Jacques Paulet (1740–1826), prominent French physician

Exhibition catalogue: Find out more and buy online today

A film showing leading experts, Professor Peter Pormann and Professor Charles Burnett, discussing the themes of the exhibition.

The RCP would like to thank the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilization for invaluable advice and support during the development of this exhibition.


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