Journal of the American Oriental Society

Published by JSTOR

Online ISSN: 0003-0279


The Evolution of Anatomical Knowledge in Ancient India, with Special Reference to Cross-Cultural Influences
  • Article

February 1986


64 Reads

Ludwig Edelstein's study of the history of Greek anatomy will be used as a model to examine the evolution of anatomical knowledge in ancient India. The earliest evidence of Indian anatomy is found in the Vedic literature, dating from 1500 B. C. to 200 B. C. It provides a clear picture of the acquisition of anatomical knowledge by means of the sacrifice of animals, principally the horse, and of men; chance observations contributed a comparatively small amount to the body of anatomical knowledge. As a result of these sacrificial rites quite accurate lists of bodily structures of the horse and of man have been recorded and transmitted by means of the traditional religious texts. These catalogues remained the principal sources of anatomy until the first centuries of the Christian era, when we find a codification of Indian medical knowledge in the surgical text, Suśruta Saṃhitā. Isolated in a chapter on anatomy, a new approach to the study of the bodily parts is recommended: in order to acquire the most complete understanding of the human body the author prescribes that first-hand observation of the parts should be combined with textual learning and proceeds to detail the correct method to dissect a cadaver. This precept, reflecting a characteristically non-Indian attitude, may well have had its origin in the Alexandrian school of medicine, in particular in the teachings of Herophilus in the first half of the third century B. C. The instruction which added a wholly new dimension to Indian anatomical thought could have been transmitted to India around the time of Alexander. As in the Hellenistic world, scientific dissection was not readily accepted by the Indian medical community and its practice quickly vanished. During the short time it was known and performed in India, some advances seem to have been made in the understanding of the inner parts of the human body, increasing the store-house of anatomical knowledge already possessed by the Indian physicians. A similar technique of dissection is detailed in the twelfth century Salernitan anatomical text, Anatomia magistri Nicolai phisici. This remarkable occurrence poses questions, the answers to which cannot be definitely given until more evidence becomes available. The paper concludes with a critical translation of chapter five on the "enumeration and distinction of the bodily parts" in the book of anatomy of the Suśruta Saṃhitā.

The Introduction of Greek Medicine into Tibet in the Seventh and Eighth Centuries

February 1979


106 Reads

The introduction of foreign medical science into Tibet has hitherto not been the subject of any detailed study, although Tibetan histories of medicine contain much information on the early development of medical science in the Tibetan Empire. In the present paper, an attempt is made to interpret all of the relevant passages from available Tibetan sources concerning the Greek school, the most important of the foreign systems of medicine introduced into early Tibet.

Forensic Medicine in Pre-Imperial China

February 1982


28 Reads

La medecine legale en Chine, au III s. av. J.-C. L'A. traduit et discute quatre des textes legaux sur lamelles de bambou decouverts en 1975 dans la tombe d'un fonctionnaire local a Shui-hu-ti, Yun-meng hsien (Chine centrale). Ces quatre textes, datant de 266 et 247 av. J.-C., portent les titres suivants: "Lepre", "Mort par meurtre", "Mort par pendaison" et "Avortement" (au cours d'une lutte). Exposes de cas d'espece et de l'enquete medicale qui a lieu.

Consanguineous Marriage in Pali Literature

February 1973


9 Reads

Instances of cross-cousin marriage in Pali literature are found only in the post-canonical stratum and are unsupported or in some cases contradicted by non-Pali versions of the same stories. They reflect, therefore, the kinship practices of early Ceylon, not North India. Eighteen cases of cross-cousin marriage among Ceylonese kings are almost equally divided between the patrilateral (father's sister's daughter) and matrilateral (mother's brother's daughter) varieties, showing that the rule was bilateral. Both cross-cousin and parallel-kin (agnatic) marriages were entered into by the kings of Ceylon to insure purity of descent and the internal harmony of the large, essentially endogamous royal family.

Ibn Al-Jazzār on Medicine for the Poor and Destitute
  • Article
  • Full-text available

February 1998


280 Reads

The Ṭibb al-fuqarāʾ wa 'l-masākīn (Medicine for the Poor and Destitute), a treatise composed by Ibn al-Jazzār of Qayrawān in the tenth century, is part of a literary genre called "medicine for the poor" that has been previously neglected by research. This genre was popular throughout the Middle Ages in Islamic and Western Latin literature. Addressing the needs of the poor and the sick, Ibn al-Jazzār's monograph has a distinctly popular and practical character, especially as it is, in sum, a list of remedies with no attention to aetiology and symptomatology. This character is also evident in the numerous recipes with magical content, and in the frequent advice to use urine and animal excrement as ingredients. However, besides having the features of popular medicine, Ibn al-Jazzār's monograph has a theoretical character as well, since the material is drawn from a variety of literary sources. The treatise thus clearly reflects everyday life in a society in which bookish knowledge and popular lore mutually influenced one another. It combines the data of scientific Galenic medicine with more popular remedies, continuing an old tradition.

The Soma of the Rig Veda: What Was It?

February 1971


102 Reads

In his paper Mr. Wasson summarizes his argument in favor of a mushroom, the flyagaric called by mycologists Amanita muscaria, as the Soma of the Rig Veda. This mushroom was still being used as an inebriant by the shamans of remote tribes in Siberia only a few years ago. Mr. Wasson quotes from the Rig Veda to show how apposite are the poets' words to the fly-agaric, in most cases illustrating his points with colored plates. The Siberian tribesmen drink the urine of one who has taken the fly-agaric and find it as inebriating as the fly-agaric itself. Mr. Wasson raises the question whether the Vedic priests did not do likewise, marshalling certain evidence in favor of this view. He then explains how he thinks it happened that the identification of Soma has had to wait until now to be achieved, and finally he suggests certain textual cruces in the hymns that may be resolved by his discovery and outlines other channels of inquiry for fruitful research.

Economic Life in Ottoman Jerusalem

July 1991


46 Reads

Jerusalem was never just another Ottoman town, but in the heyday of the Ottoman Empire it displayed many of the characteristics of a Muslim traditional society. Professor Cohen makes full use of the rich and hitherto unexplored Arabic and Turkish archives relating to this period to reconstruct a vivid and detailed picture of everyday life in this lively urban centre. His study focuses on the major guilds of sixteenth-century Jerusalem - butchers, soap-producers and dealers, millers and bakers, describing and analysing their production methods, prices and measures, and the services they provided for the local population. In addition, their economic ties with neighbouring villages, as well as their social background and inter-relations are discussed. The author shows how this detailed knowledge can lead to a better understanding of the longer-term changes in the economy of the city and of the Empire as a whole.

A Monetary History of Ottoman Empire

July 2002


329 Reads

The Ottoman empire stood at the crossroads of intercontinental trade at the dawn of the era of capitalism. This volume examines the monetary history of that empire from its beginnings in the fourteenth century to the end of the first world war. Through a detailed examination of the currencies and related institutions of an empire which stretched from the Balkans through Anatolia, Syria, Egypt and the Gulf to the Maghrib, the book demonstrates the complexity of the monetary arrangements and their evolution in response to both local developments and global economic forces. The volume also affords some valuable insights into social and political history and the evolution of Ottoman institutions. This is an important book by one of the most distinguished economic historians in the field.

Living Without Silver: The Monetary History of Early Medieval North India.

April 1993


175 Reads

This book is concerned with money as an indicator of economic activity. It makes a comprehensive examination of the use of money from Afghanistan to Bihar, and from Kashmir to Malwa, during the period AD 750-1250. Its major premise is that the patterns of production, exchange, and dispersion of money over time can be used to define the economic systems of early medieval North India. This book explains and interprets the economic history of the period, using current models of feudalization, decentralization, trade, and commerce. The author rejects the common perception that money during this period was scarce, primitive, and debased, by analysing the evidence of surviving coin hoards. His findings suggest a considerably greater reliance on money, closer co-ordination of its use, and its wider circulation in larger quantities, than is consistent with many current models of the early medieval Indian economy.

Project DOC: Its Methodological Basis 1

January 2003


35 Reads

he many language families in the world, Chinese offers an ideal laboratory within which to study phonolo- ical change for many reasons. Chief among these are two: (1) its unrivaled wealth of materials, and (2) its dis- tinctive phonology and orthography. (1) The earliest extant materials date back to ca. 1500 B.C. in the form of oracle inscriptions. We have a virtual time depth of some three and one-half millenia of literature. This literature includes not only such works as rime tables and rime dictionaries, but also extensive contributions from a tradition of philological scholarship that arose in the early Son and reached con- siderable sophistication in the Qing period. Indeed the view has been expressed that in China the mebhods of scientific reasoning were primarily developed in the hands -3- of the Qing philologists (as opposed to Europe where they originate in the physical sciences). Few language groups compare with Chinese with respect to this immense treasure

Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty as the Source for the Canon Formula in Deuteronomy 13:1

July 2010


146 Reads

The purpose of this study is to propose a Neo-Assyrian origin for the so-called “canon formula” found in Deut. 13:1 (LXX 12:32). Sections of Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty, also known as the Vassal Treaties of Esarhaddon (VTE), have previously been recognized as a literary model for both the curses of Deut. 28 and the Deuteronomic series of three laws governing apostasy from a prophet or oneiromancer, a family member, or an entire city (Deut. 13:2–12). Here Levinson proposes a similar origin for the canon formula of Deut. 13:1, as part of Deuteronomy’s larger project of creative literary reworking. Levinson suggests that the adjuration to loyalty of the adê provided a literary model for the authors of Deut. 13. Those authors transformed the Neo-Assyrian formula requiring exclusive loyalty to the “word of Esarhaddon” (abutu ša Aššur-aḫu-iddina) into one that demanded fidelity to “the word” of Israel’s divine overlord, Yahweh, as proclaimed by Moses.

The Mystical Poems of Rumi 2: Second Selection, Poems 201-400

July 1987


44 Reads

Rumi, who wrote and preached in Persia during the thirteenth century, is one of history’s most celebrated mystics. His vast body of poetry includes a lengthy epic of religious mysticism, the Mathnavi, and more than three thousand lyrics and odes. A. J. Arberry, who selected four hundred of the lyrics for translation, calls Rumi "one of the world's greatest poets. In profundity of thought, inventiveness of image, and triumphant mastery of language, he stands out as the supreme genius of Islamic mysticism." Arberry’s authoritative translation is one of the few done directly from the original Persian. A. J. Arberry (1905-69) was professor of Arabic at Cambridge University.

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