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Attend: Medicine, Environment and Health in the Eastern Mediterranean World 1400-1750 (3 & 4 April: Cambridge)

A conference, “Medicine, Environment and Health in the Eastern Mediterranean World,” organized by Valentina Pugliano (Cambridge) and Nükhet Varlık (Rutgers-Newark), generously sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and Christ's College, Cambridge, will be held at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 April 2017.

This conference will offer, for the first time, a comprehensive picture of medicine and healing in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East, ca. 1400-1750. While a considerable body of scholarship exists on Islamic and Byzantine science and medicine and their influence on the medieval Latin West, the state of medical theory and practice in the following centuries has been comparatively neglected and often spoken of in terms of intellectual stagnation and decline. The conference aims to challenge this narrative and reveal the continued vitality of knowledge making and transfer across the eastern Mediterranean world. Taking as our focus the politically heterogeneous southern Europe and eastern Mediterranean, the Mamluk Kingdom, and the Ottoman Empire, we will reconstruct the healthscape of this region in the early modern period, exploring its medical unity and disunity and the human and environmental factors that played a part in it.

With an introductory lecture by Professor Peregrine Horden, Royal Holloway University of London.

Please register here:

Registration: Full £50 (per day £25); Students £25. Buffet lunch and refreshments included. We can provide support to book overnight accommodation in college for attendees who wish to do so. For any query, please contact Valentina Pugliano ( or

DAY ONE – Monday 3 April

9:45-10:45 Introductory Lecture
Peregrine Horden (Royal Holloway) – Medicine and Healthcare around the Eastern Mediterranean c. 1350

11:00-12:45 The Early Modern Mediterranean – Human and Non-Human Factors of Encounter
• Nükhet Varlık (Rutgers-Newark) – Re-thinking the History of the Second Pandemic: Plague, Society,
 and Environment in the Early Modern Mediterranean
• Piers Mitchell (Cambridge) – Human Intestinal Parasites from a Mamluk Period Cesspool in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem: Potential Indicators of Long Distance Travel in the Fifteenth Century
• Lori Jones (Ottawa) – Early Modern European Constructions of the Oriental Landscape

2:00-3:45 Spaces of Healing
• Sonja Brentjes (MPIWG) – Medical and Scientific Education at Madrasas between Egypt and Anatolia
• Miri Shefer-Mossensohn (Tel Aviv) – The Ottoman Court as a Site of Medical Practice and Learning (tbc)
• Valentina Pugliano (Cambridge) – The Fundouq as a Space of Healing: Venetian Diplomatic Doctors and their Practice in the Levant

4:15-6:00 Borders, Communities and Public Health
• Ruthy Gertwagen (Haifa) – Hygiene, Illness Wounds and Problems of Medical Care at Sea in the Fifteenth- Century Mediterranean
• Yaron Ayalon (Ball State) – Medicine and Jewish-Muslims Relations in the Wake of Natural Disasters
• Lucia Dacome (Toronto) – Medical Frontiers in the Eastern Mediterranean

DAY TWO – Tuesday 4 April
9:15-11:00 Typologies of Healing
• Paulina Lewicka (Warsaw) – Food as a Therapeutic: Aspects of Medical Culture in Egypt of the Late Mamluk and the Early Ottoman Period (14th-17th centuries)
• Aslıhan Gürbüzel (McGill) – Medicine in the Vernacular: Sufis, Preachers and the Oral Circulation of Knowledge in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire
• Christopher Braun (Warburg) – The Magician’s Foray into the Art of Healing in Mamluk and Ottoman Egypt

11:15-13:00 Typologies of Healers
• Giacomo Corazzol (EPHE, Paris) – Jewish Physicians and Medical Lore in Crete (13th-16th centuries)
• Jane Stevens Crawshaw (Oxford Brookes) – Tears of Chios: Health, Sanctity and the Environment in the Early Modern Eastern Mediterranean
• Antonis Anastasopoulos and Christos Kyriakopoulos (Crete) – Hernia Healers in Ottoman Crete (c.1670-1750)

2:15-4:00 Textual Transmission of Medical Knowledge
• Efraim Lev and Amir Ashur (Haifa) – The Rationale for Medical Notebooks in the Cairo Geniza: The Transfer Between Practical and Theoretical Medicine in the Late Medieval Eastern Mediterranean
• Sara Nur Yıldız (Istanbul Koç University, ANAMED) – “He Who Has No Physician to Attend Him”: Early Anatolian Turkish Vernacular Medical Texts (Late 14th-15th Centuries)
• Harun Küçük (Pennsylvania) – Modern Latins and Franks: A Preliminary Census of European Physicians in Ottoman Texts

4:30-5:40 Beyond the Medical Community
• Nir Shafir (UCSD) – Hummus and Hot Iron: Methods and Means of Medicine in the
Seventeenth-Century Middle East
• Duygu Yıldırım (Stanford) – Post-Humanist Discourse in Medicine: Marsigli’s Bevanda asiatica (1685)

Roundtable conclusion (Participants tbc)

Source: Valentina Pugliano


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