Islamic medical manuscripts now online at the Wellcome trust

A correspondent directs my attention to an announcement by the Wellcome Trust.

Arabic medicine was once the most advanced in the world, and now digital facsimiles of some of its most important texts have been made freely available online. The unique online resource, based on the Wellcome Library’s Arabic manuscript collection, includes well-known medical texts by famous practitioners (such as Avicenna, Ibn al-Quff, and Ibn an-Nafis), lesser-known works by anonymous physicians and rare or unique copies, such as Averroes’ commentaries on Avicenna’s medical poetry.

Curiously the manuscripts are hosted in Egypt, at the new Library of Alexandria site.  The “Browse and find” reveals 121 manuscripts.  I did a search on “Ibn Abi”. I was looking for Ibn Abi Usaibia, but the last name is spelled so variously that I had no hope of locating it thereby.  I find that an ms. of this work does exist, WMS Arabic 432 and 433.

A very welcome discovery indeed.

Interestingly you can download PDF’s of manuscripts, at least in principle.  This is very welcome!  It is far easier to work with a local PDF than remotely.  But on my first attempt I couldn’t get the “all  images as PDF” to work.

So I tried again in Firefox, for just a single page, and it tried to open something in a new tab, which was blank.  Then I reconfigured Firefox; in the Options, Applications, for Adobe Acrobat documents I changed the Action to “Save file”.  When I pressed to download a page, it saved something with file name “pdf” (that’s the entire file name!) in my download directory.  Renaming it to 1.pdf and double-clicking on the file brought up the image. 

Retrying with “all images as PDF” still didn’t do anything.  I just left Firefox open and went off to work on something else, and eventually it opened the download window — again it named the download file “pdf”.  So patience is required, it seems.  And they need to fix that filename issue.

Of course if this is how the Wellcome Library stuff is being made available at the Library of Alexandria, possibly there are more mss for download available!

UPDATE: I note that 432 is not online.  So not all the mss are available.

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