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Ancient Text by Father of Medicine Unearthed

Scientists say medicinal recipe attributed to Hippocrates revealed in Egyptian monastery
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2017 11:48 AM CDT
Ancient Text by Father of Medicine Unearthed
A statue of Hippocrates.   (Getty/Yoeml)

(Newser) – Hippocrates is considered the father of Western medicine, and now researchers in Egypt have found what they say is one of his original texts, reports National Geographic. The discovery came during restoration of the library at the ancient St. Catherine's Monastery in South Sinai, and it took some sleuthing. The medical recipe attributed to the Greek physician was found on a leather parchment known as a palimpsest, but it had actually been overwritten by a later recipe. Spectral imaging, however, revealed the original text, believed to have been laid down by Hippocrates in the fourth or fifth century BC and then preserved by scholars on the parchment in the sixth century.

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The 1,500-year-old manuscript "will be enlisted among the oldest and the most important manuscripts in the world," says a researcher with the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, per the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. One drawback: While Egyptian authorities celebrated the discovery of the medical recipe, they apparently didn't reveal the recipe itself. The manuscript contains other recipes penned by an anonymous early writer and adorned with drawings of herbs. So why did later scholars write over them? It seems that leather was pretty expensive back then, per Ahram Online. (In Mexico, a tunnel found beneath a pyramid is intriguing.)

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