A note on the Vienna Dioscorides

The cover image above is an illustration of mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) from a 6th century AD manuscript commonly known as the Vienna Dioscorides. Created for Juliana Anicia, daughter of the Western Roman emperor Anicius Olybrius, the manuscript consists of a copy of Pedanius Dioscorides’ pharmacological text De materia medica (On medical substances) as well as a copy of Rufus’ Carmen de herbis (Poem about plants), both of which date to the first century AD, as well as two texts about animals.

Beifuß_(Wiener_Dioskurides)

 

In the uncropped image, you can see the old name of the plant — Artemisia hetera polyklonos – written in several Greek and Arabic hands. The notations on this page suggest that despite the manuscript’s excellent condition it had been used as a reference work by Byzantine Greek and then Muslim physicians in the millennium between its presentation to Juliana Anicia and its purchase, in Istanbul in the 1560s, by a member of the court of Ferdinand I.

 

More illustrations from the Vienna Dioscorides can be found here.

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