Practice versus Theory: Medieval Materia Medica according to the Cairo Genizah
By Efraim Lev and Zohar Amar
Medical History, Vol. 51 (2007)
Synopsis: The main goal of this study was to learn about the practical medicinal uses of various substances by the members of the Jewish community of Cairo as a reflection of the Mediterranean Arab world as a whole. We were able to do this thanks to the Cairo Jewish community’s unique habit, based on religious law, of gathering all written documents and keeping them in the attic of their synagogue. These are the Genizah collections, whose survival is also linked to the dry climate of Old Cairo, which contributed much to the preservation of the fragments for more than a thousand years.