Ibn Sina’s book The Canon of Medicine is the most famous single book in the history of medicine in both East and West.
Ibn Sina (980-1037 CE), also known in the West as Avicenna, was the most influential of the philosopher-scientists of Islam. His Qanun fi’l-tibb (The Canon of Medicine) is the most famous single book in the history of medicine in both East and West. It is an encyclopedia of five books that add up to about one million words in length.
During the day, Ibn Sina carried out his duties as both physician and administrator. He spent almost every night with his students composing this manuscript and other works, and carrying out philosophical and scientific discussions. The earliest-known extant manuscript of any part of this text is a copy of the fifth volume devoted to compound drugs and pharmacopoeia, dated 1052.
The Qanun served as the medical textbook of the Islamic world and was first translated into Latin in the twelfth century. The Qanun became the medical textbook of the Islamic world and with the transfer of knowledge to the Latin West in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it became the most used of all mediaeval references in Europe’s medical schools almost until the beginning of the nineteenth century.
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