Paeonia clusii.  Photograph by Mrs Sabine Beckmann.
Paeonia clusii (Clusius’ peony), considered by the ancients to have theraputic uses and magical powers. Endemic to Greece. Photographed in Crete by Mrs Sabine Beckmann. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

The Medicinal Plants of Antiquity project aims to recover the therapeutic uses of plants in classical antiquity (5th century B.C. to 2nd century A.D.) for possible integration into contemporary research on natural medicines. The resulting comprehensive computerized database, the first on this topic, will be made available to scientists and scholars through a fee-based site on the Smithsonian Institution website. Research will be based on the three major ancient extant works, or groups of works, on pharmaceutical therapy and medicinal plants, those by, or attributed to: Hippocrates (5th–4th cent. B.C.), Dioscorides (1st cent. A.D.), and Galen (2nd cent. A.D.). Texts will be read in the original language (Greek); relevant data will be extracted and translated into English, and both versions will be stored in the primary database and indexed for retrieval. A secondary database will be used to store identifications of the plants and diseases mentioned in the texts, when possible, in addition to the historical data on the authors and their works. This secondary database will be linked to the primary database so that users of the primary database can consult at any moment the necessary information for a better understanding of ancient texts.

Browse the preliminary new Diels database of ancient Greek manuscripts. Under construction.

ἶρις ἰλλυρικὴ φύλλα φέρει ὅμοια ξιφίῳ, μείζονα δὲ καὶ πλατύτερα καὶ λιπαρώτερα