Searching for Ibn Abi Useibia’s work on medical writers

Using the form of the name “Ibn-e-Abi Useibia”, I was able to find a bunch of matches for “ibn abi usaybiah” in Worldcat.  We’re looking, of course, for his ʻUyūn al-anbāʼ fī ṭabaqāt al-ʼaṭibbāʼ.  It has things to say about Hippocrates and Galen, and also about Hunain ibn Ishaq.

There are several publications listed in Worldcat.  The catalogues indicate that he lived between 1203-1270.

First, there is “Abdollatiphi bagdadensis vita”, 1808, Oxford, ed. J. Mousley, here.  This is a Life of `Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi, by our man.  The latter also wrote, I find, a Historiae Aegyptiae Compendium, which I think we came across when looking at Bar Hebraeus and exists in Latin in the same sorts of places.

There is a German publication Geschichte der Aertze, published “Königsberg : Selbstverlag, 1884” — is that “self-published?” — by  August Muller, who turned up yesterday as the editor of the Arabic text in Cairo in 1882.  This sounds very like a translation; but the record says “principally in Arabic”.  There are no UK locations for it, nor US, nor even German!  The latter, I think, probably reflects a lack of upload from German libraries, rather than lack of holdings.  There is a copy in Paris, tho.

There also seems to be a 1995 publication at Frankfurt-am-Main, in two volumes — I would guess this is a reprint of the 1882 edition.

The 1882 edition exists in the British Library — so useless to us — and in three US libraries, including California and Chicago  universities.

There is a curious publication Oyūn-al-anbā fi tabaqat-al-attebba, Ahmad ibn al-Qasim Ibn Abi Usaybi`ah; trad. et commenté par Seyed Dja’far Ghazban et Mahmoud Nadjmabadi, Publisher: Tehran : Imprimerie Organization de l’Universite de Tehran, 1970-.  Language is French.  The only copy seems to be in “Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen” in the Netherlands.

But then … I find a mysterious item, with no copies held.  “English translations of History of Physicians (4 v.), and The Book of Medicine of Asaph the Physician (2 v.). 1971.”  What can this be?  A web search quickly turns up a source — in manuscript! — here.  It’s MS C 294, a manuscript at the US National Library of Medicine!  There’s no indication of any further information.

It is a pity that WorldCat is so slow.  But it has given several leads to the material we want.

I shall now compose an email enquiring about that manuscript!

UPDATE (5th August 2011): I was able to get PDF’s of the Muller publication, which is entirely in Arabic.  No response ever appeared on the US item.


8 thoughts on “Searching for Ibn Abi Useibia’s work on medical writers

  1. Another spelling for you:
    Autor / Person: Müller, August
    Titel: Über Ibn Abi Oceibi’a und seine Geschichte der Aerzte
    Impressum: Leiden: Brill: 1884: 24 S.
    Jahr: 1884
    Zusatzinformationen: von August Müller
    Zusatzinformationen: Aus: Travaux de la 6. session du Congrés internat. des Orientales à Leide ; 2
    Dokumenttyp: Monographie
    BVB-Nummer: BV025381307
    Sprache: Deutsch


  2. Hi
    I am doing a research paper on Ibn Abi Usaibia, and would appreciate your help
    1- where there any response from US national Lib of Congress?
    2- Any chance of sending me the PDF of Muller’s publication.Thanks ( I did see it at the Wellcome foundation Lib in London , but they will not let it out of the library!)

    Many thanks
    Moayad Hanoush

  3. Hi Moayad,

    1. It’s the National Library of Medicine, not the library of congress. But no answer yet. It will be a long-drawn out business, I suspect.

    2. Glad to — they’re out of copyright. Send me an email via the contact form with an appropriate email address on, and I’ll reply with some files. (Probably tomorrow, tho, as I’m away and don’t have the files here)

  4. Hi ( can I call you Peter ? )

    Thank you very much for your kind and prompt reply..I really appreciate it.

    My email is

    If the PDF is in Arabic, I will try and translate some of it, and send you the translation. This way I can pay back some of your favours!

    ( Strangely enough, the document you mentioned was missing from the Wellcome foundation library in London..and they didn’t know where it was!) the one I saw was in German within the Fuat Sezgin books –Islamic medicines.

    This is the details of the book which is missing!

    TITLE Ibn Abi Useibia : [Uyun al-anb¯a f¯i-tabak¯at al-attibb¯a] /
    herausgegeben von August Müller.
    IMPRINT [Farnborough] : Gregg International Publishers, 1972.
    PHYS.DESC. 898 p. in various pagings ; 25 cm.
    NOTE Text in Arabic; introductions in Arabic and German.
    NOTE Reprint of the 1882 ed. published in Cairo by al-Matba‘ah al
    -Wahb¯iyah, with index of the critical ed. published in
    Königsberg in 1884.
    NOTE Includes indexes.
    NOTE Added t.p.: Kit¯ab ‘uy¯un al-anb¯a’ f¯i tabaq¯at al-atibb¯a’
    ISBN/ISSN 0576031313.
    ISBN/ISSN .b1343553x.
    REF NO 3378229.
    AUTHOR, ETC. Ibn Ab¯i Usaybi‘ah, Ahmad ibn al-Q¯asim, d. 1269 or 70.
    AUTHOR, ETC. Müller, August, 1848-1892.
    OTHER TITLES ‘Uy¯un al-anb¯a’ f¯i tabaq¯at al-atibb¯a’. Arabic.
    OTHER TITLES Kit¯ab ‘uy¯un al-anb¯a’ f¯i tabaq¯at al-atibb¯a’
    SUBJECT Physicians — Islamic Empire.
    GENRE/TECH Biographies. rbgenr.
    1 > Closed stores Orient. r 1066 Available Online request

    Best regards

  5. I am so sorry

    I meant to say Roger!

    Peter is my son! It is late on Saturday !

Leave a Reply