Throwback Thursday: Abyssinian Medical Book
This unusual item was originally part of the rare book collection and was presented to the College Library by Roy Dobbin. Roy Dobbin was a foundation fellow of the College and professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Egyptian University in Cairo. He was also a collector of rare medical books, many of which we have in our collections including a first edition of Hunter’s Gravid Uterus, Anatomical Tables by William Smellie and a 1555 edition of Andreas Vesalius’, ‘De Humani Corporis Fabrica’, all of which I could write about for another Throwback Thursday!
Dobbin gives the following information about this particular item, although the reliability is unknown: ‘This Ethiopic manuscript was the property of a priestly medical man in Abyssinia. In cases of sickness he opened the book at any page and where he put his finger on the page was the remedy. The book itself has no medical matter in it, I believe. The monk who used it was a quack and had no medical training whatever…It was not for long in his hands.’ It is supposedly late 17th/early 18th century and written on gazelle skin.