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Who are the Elamites and why the language of this ancient civilization was deciphered only now

Who are the Elamites and why the language of this ancient civilization was deciphered only now 86

The writing of Elam, a neighbor of Sumer, one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, could not be deciphered to this day. However, the end of 2020 was marked by a breakthrough in Elam studies: French archaeologist François Dessay presented a deciphering of the Elamite Linear script used in the XXV-XIX centuries BC. e. Ilya Egorov, a specialist in comparative historical linguistics and an employee of the RANEPA, talks about who the Elamites are, what we know about their language and why the linear Elamite script was deciphered only now.

At the beginning of the story

The Elamite state existed from the third millennium to the 6th century BC. e., when all of its territory came under the rule of the Persian royal dynasty of the Achaemenids. Information about the Elamites has come down to us from Sumerian, Akkadian and Persian sources and from their own cuneiform texts. Now these sources have been supplemented by texts written in Linear Elamite script.

Elam was first mentioned in Sumerian clay tablets in the middle of the third millennium BC. e. The Sumerians designated this country with the sign NIM, which also meant ‘upper’. Elam does indeed lie on a higher ground compared to the main Sumerian cities. Susa, the capital of the Elamite state, was located in the foothills of the Zagros, east of the interfluve of the Tigris and Euphrates.

This is very close to the place where, as Samuel Kramer aptly put it, history began 

By the beginning of history, Kramer understood the beginning of written history, that is, the moment when written monuments appeared. Writing was invented in Sumer at the turn of the third and fourth millennia BC. e. A little later, a proto-Elamite letter appeared, from which, perhaps, the writing system that François Dessay deciphered came from. The corpus of proto-Elamite writing contains about 1,700 clay tablets, found mainly in Susa. They date back to 3100-2900 BC. e. Most of the tablets are kept in the Louvre storerooms. Now almost all of them have been digitized and are available on the Internet to everyone.

Proto-Elamite writing

In the strict sense, proto-Elamite writing remains undeciphered, that is, it has not yet been possible to ascribe to signs (most of which are rather abstract) concrete meanings and to understand how these texts should have sounded. However, we have a general idea of ​​what is written on these plates. In structure, they are similar to the Sumerian proto-cuneiform tablets from Uruk, containing household records.

A typical proto-Elamite plaque is designed roughly like a modern cashier’s check

Who are the Elamites and why the language of this ancient civilization was deciphered only now 87
Tablet Sb 15166, oriented as the scribe held it. Front side with body text on the right. On the left is the reverse side with the amount of property and the imprint of a cylindrical seal. Photo: CDLI project

They began to write in the upper right corner. First there was a headline that indicated the owner of the property. A list of this property followed. Each position in it was arranged like this: the name of the object, then some unit of measurement and quantity. When the line ended, they wrote on the next one from left to right, and after it – again from right to left. 

This direction of writing is called bustrofedon. The lines were separated from each other by a line. If the list needed to be continued on the reverse side, then the plate was turned over along the vertical axis. At the end of the list, the amount was calculated. For this, the plate was turned over along the horizontal axis relative to the front side. The back was sometimes stamped… So that life does not seem like honey to an uninitiated reader, it is customary to publish proto-Elamite tablets rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise.

Who are the Elamites and why the language of this ancient civilization was deciphered only now 88
Layout of the text. The plate is oriented in the same way as in modern publications. Source: Englund, Robert K., The State of Decipherment of Proto-Elamite // The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004. P. 123

What language was behind the proto-Elamite script is still unclear. Moreover, it is unclear whether it is even worthwhile to correlate the proto-Elamite writing with any language. After all, here we are dealing with a record of an account rather than a text in the full sense of the word. The subject of the account and the unit of measure are indicated by pictograms followed by a number. This is most similar to how we indicate the quantity of the required product opposite the icon with its image in the online store.

Monuments of linear Elamite writing, in contrast to proto-Elamite tablets, already represent what can be called texts and read in the more familiar sense of the word. The earliest of these date back to about 2500-2400 BC. e., and the last 1900-1800 years BC. e. These are mainly monumental inscriptions, inscriptions on clay tablets and cones, and inscriptions on metal vessels of the Gunaga. The latter ultimately played a key role in decryption.

How to decipher ancient writing?

Speaking about decryption, first of all, it is necessary to distinguish between two situations: decoding of writing and decoding of the language. It so happens that we already know the written language, but the language is unknown. This is, for example, the case of the Hittite language.

The Hittite texts are written in a variation of Akkadian cuneiform that was read in the middle of the 19th century. Since the texts could be easily “spoken”, it was not too difficult to understand that the language belongs to the Indo-European family. After this was established, the meaning of many words began to be derived from the meanings of related words in other Indo-European languages. 

An important role was played by the fact that Akkadian cuneiform, in addition to syllabic signs, uses ideograms, that is, hieroglyphs denoting not some sound or syllable, but a concept. Fortunately for the researchers, Hittite scribes also inserted many Akkadian words.

The meaning of the remaining words can often be guessed from the context, just like we do in a foreign language lesson

It’s another matter when the writing itself is unknown.

And in that case , it’s a good idea to define the type of letter first.

Quite reliably, this can be established by the number of characters:

  • 20–40 characters – an alphabetical letter, where the character corresponds to a phoneme;
  • 50–100 signs – syllabic writing, where the sign corresponds to the syllable;
  • 100-600 characters – mixed type: syllabic or alphabetical writing using hieroglyphs (logograms and ideograms). In such a system, syllabic or letter signs are much more frequent than hieroglyphic;
  • > 600 – hieroglyphic writing, where the sign corresponds to a word (logogram) or a more general concept (ideogram).

If you are very lucky, then by looking at the alphabetical or syllabic system, you can guess the language in which the text is written.

Here the analysis of frequency combinations and their variants comes to the rescue. So, in deciphering the Mycenaean Linear B, the key was the assumption that the texts were written in Greek. They guessed this, noting that behind the variations of the chains of symbols, you can see the Greek inflectional paradigms.

The most important step towards the successful deciphering of ancient writing is the identification in the text of some personal names or geographical names known from other sources. Since proper names tend to sound similar in different languages, they help to easily establish the phonetic meaning of written signs.

Jean-François Champollion made a breakthrough in the study of Egyptian writing by identifying cartouches with the names of Ptolemy and Cleopatra on the Rosetta Stone. Michael Ventris found place names in tablets with Linear B. Friedrich Grotefend was able to decipher the Persian cuneiform due to the fact that the Behistun inscription contained a list of kings known from the works of Herodotus.

The presence of parallel texts in other languages ​​greatly simplifies decryption. Monuments containing both the original text and its translation are called bilinguals.

If the translation is accurate, then deciphering turns into a not very difficult linguistic task, like those that high school students can cope with in a few hours at the Olympiad in linguistics.

The already mentioned Behistun inscription is an extremely important monument. It is a parallel trilingual inscription in Old Persian, Akkadian and Elamite in cuneiform transmission.

So, deciphering writing is likely to be successful if at least two of the three conditions are met:

  • understand what language the texts are written in and find known related languages;
  • identify personal names;
  • find bilingual texts.

In the case of the Elamite Linear script, all three conditions had already been met, so that complete decryption remained a matter of time.

Elamite language

The assumption that the inscriptions made in the linear Elamite script reflect the Elamite language has remained only a hypothesis, although it is quite reliable. Indeed, the Akkadian version of one bilingual text mentions the king of Elam, Puzur-Inshushinak, so it is logical to think that the second language of these texts is Elamite. Now this guess has been confirmed.

The hypothesis that the mysterious inscriptions were made in the Elamite language gave optimism to the decoders. After all, Elamite is already well known.

The fact is that the Elamites used not only their own original script, but also the Akkadian cuneiform. Akkadian cuneiform was used in ancient times in the Middle East as widely as the Latin alphabet in modern Europe. In addition to the Elamite and Akkadian language proper, various modifications of the Akkadian cuneiform were used for writing in Hittite, Luwian, Hurrian, Urartian and some other languages.

Thanks to the cuneiform texts and the Elamite-Akkadian bilinguals, the Elamite language was learned well. There is a two-volume dictionary, a small but generally satisfactory grammar and a few short essays, so that reading Elamite texts is not difficult.

It has not yet been possible to establish the linguistic relatives of the Elamite language. It is considered an isolate .

There are two hypotheses about his family ties. David McAlpin compared Elamite to the Dravidian languages ​​spoken in southern India, eastern Iran and Pakistan. Czech linguist Vaclav Blazek – with the  languages ​​of the Afrasian macrofamily, which includes Semitic languages ​​in the Middle East, Egyptian (Ancient Egyptian and Coptic), Berber, Cushite, Omotic, and Chadian in northern Africa. 

After re-analyzing both hypotheses, Georgy Starostin came to the conclusion that McAlpin and Blazhek failed to show a close connection of the Elamites with the Dravids or Afrasians, but the Elamite can still be connected with these families on a deeper level. Proof of such a distant relationship remains a matter for the future.

What is already known about the Elamite Linear script?

By 2020, only 40 fairly short inscriptions are known. They can identify 258 characters. This number speaks rather of the mixed nature of the writing: syllabary and logograms. For example, in the Mycenaean linear letter B, comparable in the number of characters, there are 87 syllabic characters and 120 logograms. 

However, it is assumed that some of the 258 Elamite signs are actually variants of each other. Although not many monuments are known, they are scattered over an area of ​​about 1000 kilometers from Susa to Konar-Sandal and span several centuries. In such a situation, geographical and chronological variations should have arisen. François Dessay suggests that about a hundred characters were used at a time in one place. And this may already be a purely syllabic letter.

Before François Dessay, two attempts were made to decrypt. Walter Hinz in the 1960s thought he knew the meaning of almost 60 characters. Piero Merigi in the 1970s believed that it is possible to reliably speak about the meaning of 30 characters. François Dessay made more or less reliable conclusions about 13 signs in 2018.

The starting point for all decryptions is the bilingual Akkadian-Elamite inscription with a mention of the king Puzur-Inshushinak. There are ten more inscriptions where a string of symbols is found that can be identified with the name of this king. These ten inscriptions are grouped into three independent texts: the first one exists in four versions (inscriptions A, B, C, E), the second – in three (inscriptions F, G, H) and the third – in one (inscription I).

Who are the Elamites and why the language of this ancient civilization was deciphered only now 89
Texts mentioning Puzur-Inshushinak. Source: Francois Desset, Linear Elamite writing // The Elamite world / eds. J. Alvarez-Mon, G.-P. Basello et Y. Wicks. Routledge World Series, Taylor and Francis, Abington. P. 201

The chain of characters in a gray frame under the number 2 in all three texts denotes the name of the king and reads pu-zu-r-šu-ši-na-k. In the text A / B / C / E under the number 1, apparently, there should be the name of the god, from which the name of the king is derived and which is translated from Akkadian ‘The Secret of Inshushinak’. 

The chain under the number 5 contains two already known characters – ši and in. This suggests that it should be read ši-in-piš-huk. Shinpishkhuk, as follows from cuneiform sources, is the father of Puzur-Inshushinak. The chains numbered 3 and 4 are most likely the titles of Puzur-Inshushinak.

In 2018, François Dessay began to study the body of the metal vessels of the Gunaga. He noticed that the texts on them are of a formulaic nature, that is, they consist of stable blocks with a small variable part. The inscriptions on the eight vessels begin with the same symbol (marked in green in the figure), followed by a variable part, most likely the name.

 Next, the title is indicated (in the figure it is indicated in blue). François Dessay noticed that ten vessels in the title contain the same chain of signs that followed the name Puzur-Inshushinak (in the figure below – under the number 6, in the figure above – under the number 3). He decided that it meant ‘king’ and began to select the names of the Elamite kings.

 It is known that one name must begin with ši (the string under the number 2), and the other must contain r in the middle (the string under the number 3). And these must be kings who lived between 2050 and 1800 BC e. – this is how the vessels are dated. Only one candidate was found: Shilhaha (chain 2) and Ebarat II (chain 3). So the meaning of some more symbols became known, and François Dessay opened the road to complete deciphering.

Who are the Elamites and why the language of this ancient civilization was deciphered only now 90
Comparison of texts on the vessels of the Gunaga. Source: Desset F., Nine Linear Elamite Texts Inscribed on Silver “Gunagi” Vessels (X, Y, Z, F ‘, H’, I ‘, J’, K ‘and L’): New Data on Linear Elamite Writing and the History of the Sukkalmaḫ Dynasty // Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies Volume 56 (2). 2018

What was François Dessay doing in quarantine?

During the quarantine, Desse, along with three colleagues – Cambyz Tabibzade, Matthew Kervran and Jean-Pietro Basello – continued to explore the silver vessels of the Gunaga. They managed to establish that the cuneiform text on a vessel in honor of King Sive-Palar-Huhpak is very close to the text made in linear Elamite script on a vessel in honor of King Ittatu I.

In fact, they managed to find not even a bilingual, but a biggraphic text, that is, an inscription on the Siwe-Palar-Huhpaka vessel is practically a cuneiform transliteration of the inscription on the Ittatu I vessel. Thanks to this inscription, it was possible to carry out a complete decoding. 

The letter turned out to be completely phonetic, that is, the signs in it denote only syllables or individual sounds, and logograms or ideograms are not used.

Who are the Elamites and why the language of this ancient civilization was deciphered only now 91
A vessel with a cuneiform inscription mentioning Siwe-Palar-Huhpak (left) and a vessel with an inscription in Linear Elamite script mentioning Ittatu I (right). Source: The Mahboubian Collection

As evidence of the success of the decryption, François Dessay presented in a short talk the reading and translation of two texts written in Linear Elamite script. The inscription on the stone discovered in Susa and now stored in the Louvre turned out to be just the name and title of the king Puzur-Inshushinak. The inscription on the silver vessel is an initiatory formula. 

Who are the Elamites and why the language of this ancient civilization was deciphered only now 92
Photo and drawing of the letter E. Source: Alice Kober Gesellschaft für die Entzifferung antiker Schriftsysteme

‘Puzur-Shushinak, hatbak Suz, whisper of the people of Elam, (son of) Shinpishkhuk’.

Who are the Elamites and why the language of this ancient civilization was deciphered only now 93
Photo and drawing of Q lettering. Source: Alice Kober Gesellschaft für die Entzifferung antiker Schriftsysteme

‘Mistress Marapshsha , Shumar-Ash / su ,

(this) silver (vessel) I made. In the temple that will be named after me (for the glory of my name -?),

Khumshat, (because) I have humbly made an offering to you. ‘

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Ancient

Ancient papyrus “Book of the Dead” and hundreds of other artifacts found in Egypt

Ancient papyrus "Book of the Dead" and hundreds of other artifacts found in Egypt 96

Ancient sarcophagi, statues, toys, funerary masks and other artifacts, including papyrus from the Book of the Dead, were discovered during the excavation of the necropolis in Saqqara, 30 kilometers south of Cairo. According to experts, the finds are about four thousand years old.

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that the sarcophagi were found in 22 burial mounds at a depth of 10 to 12 meters.

Among the finds was a four-meter scroll of papyrus from the Book of the Dead. The ancient Egyptians believed that hymns and texts from the Book of the Dead helped the recently deceased walk through the underworld.

According to the famous Egyptologist Zaha Hawass, the finds date back to the Sixth Dynasty, which ruled Egypt from 2323 BC to 2150 BC. e. More than 50 wooden coffins dating from the later “New Kingdom”, between 1570 and 1069. BC e., were also opened on Sunday.

He also believes the artifacts will help bring back tourists to Egypt who have almost stopped arriving due to the pandemic. The country has previously stimulated the tourism sector with the help of new archaeological finds. Later this year, authorities are planning to open the Great Egyptian Museum, also known as the Giza Museum.

Earlier excavations at Saqqara focused on the step pyramid of Djoser, one of the first in ancient Egypt. Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani notes that “the finds of Saqqara are not yet exhausted.”

In 2020, more than a hundred sarcophagi, about 2500 years old, were found in Saqqara. Saqqara 3000 years ago was actively used for burials and was the main necropolis of Memphis – the capital of Ancient Egypt. Now it belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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Tibetan Secrets Vaults and Aircraft Weapons

Tibetan Secrets Vaults and Aircraft Weapons 97

From the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian poem of unusual volume, we learn that someone named Asura Maya possessed a vimaana of about 6 m in circumference, equipped with four strong wings.

 This poem is a treasure trove of information pertaining to conflicts between gods who resolved their differences using weapons that are obviously as deadly as those we can use. In addition to “bright missiles”, the poem describes the use of other deadly weapons. “Indra’s dart” is operated with a round “reflector”. When turned on, it gives off a beam of light, which, being focused on any target, immediately “devours it with its power.” In one particular case, when the hero, Krishna, pursues his enemy, Salva, in the sky, Saubha made Shalva’s vimana invisible. Unafraid

Astra – means weapons of mass destruction and many other types of terrible weapons are described quite authentically in the Mahabharata, but the most terrible of them was used against Vrish. The narration says:

“Gurkha, flying on his fast and powerful vimaana, threw a single projectile charged with all the power of the Universe at the three cities of Vrishi and Andhak. A red-hot column of smoke and fire, bright as 10,000 suns, rose in all its splendor. An unknown weapon, the Iron Thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death who turned to ashes the entire race of the Vrishis and the Andhaks.”

It is important to note that these types of records are not isolated. They correlate with similar information from other ancient civilizations. The effects of this iron lightning contain an ominously recognizable ring. Obviously, those who were killed by her were burned so that their bodies were not recognizable.

Astra: weapon of mass destruction of the gods

Tibetan Secrets Vaults and Aircraft Weapons

Astra appears before us as a supernatural weapon used by a particular deity. The mastery or use of a weapon required the knowledge of a mantra or invocation,

Each Astra had special terms of use, and violation of the terms could be fatal. Due to the gigantic destructive power of this weapon, his knowledge was passed from teacher to student exclusively orally.

Astra will play a very important role in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, where they are used in great battles by archers such as Rama, Karna or Bhishma. In fact, there is a suspicion that, as in the case of the Vimanas, some Asters work on the basis of mercury, or very similar liquids, which can circulate, rotating almost at the speed of light.

There are several dozen different Astra, according to their “operating model” and characteristics. Each main god had his own Astra, endowed with a certain power. For example, Devastra was the mythical equivalent of the modern traditional rocket; The asurastra that destroyed the asuras was the mythical equivalent of modern biological missiles.

Many say that 30,000 years ago the gods destroyed the asuras with nuclear weapons – but this is most likely a matter of opinion and interpretation of ancient texts in the modern sense. Also mentioned is the fearsome and destructive Brahmastra, the gift of Brahma (the Creator), the mythical equivalent of modern nuclear weapons. As mentioned in the epic sagas of India, the power of Brahmaster is capable of destroying the entire world.

This is how the Mahabharata (Vanaparvan, chapters 168-173) describes the battle in which the warrior Arjuna – the great hero – fought against the horde of Asuras:

Indra, the lord of heaven, demanded that Arjuna destroy the entire army of Asuras. These thirty million demons lived in fortresses located in the depths of the seas . Indra, the lord of the heavens, gave his own vimana to Arjuna, piloted by his clever assistant Matali.

In the fierce battle that unfolded, the Asuras caused crushing rains, but Arjuna marched against them with a divine weapon that managed to drain all the water … Arjuna fired a deadly projectile that destroyed the entire city of the proud.

Tibetan Secrets Vaults and Aircraft Weapons

Information about a number of ancient artifacts was obtained in 1929 during the interrogation of the Trotskyist Y. Blumkin, who had previously participated in the NKVD expeditions to Tibet, in connection with the sale of secret information about the weapons of the “civilization of the gods” to German and Japanese intelligence services. Y.Blyumkin’s betrayal in fact allowed the leadership of the Third Reich to use the high technologies of the “civilization of the gods”, which were later used by the Nazis to create a secret base in Antarctica, as well as to create various types of “weapons of retaliation.”

“As I already told my investigator, on a business trip to Tibet in 1925, with the order of the head of the Tibetan state, the Dalai Lama 13, I was taken to underground halls and shown some so-called artifacts – weapons of the gods, preserved on Earth from 15-20 thousand years before our These weapons are kept in separate rooms. I wrote about this in detail in my reports …

The characteristics of the weapon are approximately as follows:

1. Giant forceps – “Wajaru”. With their help, precious metals are smelted. If you melt gold at the temperature of the sun’s surface (6 thousand degrees C), then the gold flares up and turns into powder for 70 seconds. This powder was used in the construction of huge mobile stone platforms. If this powder is poured onto the platform, then its weight is lost to a minimum. The powder was also used in medicine in the treatment of incurable diseases and for the elite – mainly the leaders used it for food to prolong their lives.

2. Bell – the so-called “Shu-tzu”, with the help of which you can blind for a while a large army or an entire army. Its mode of action consists in transforming electromagnetic waves at a certain frequency, which the human ear does not perceive, but acts directly on the brain. This is a very strange weapon. With his help, the Indian prophet Arjuna won big battles, causing his enemies to panic.

Tibetan Secrets Vaults and Aircraft Weapons

I have not seen how this weapon works. I saw the units themselves in the underground halls, and a member of the Council of Tibet gave me explanations about the technical characteristics that I passed on to the Germans, or rather to the representative of German military intelligence, Mr. von Stilhe. I met Shtilhe in Europe on a business trip abroad.

In addition to the technical characteristics of these two units, I also gave Shtilhe information about another weapon of the gods. This weapon remained from about 8-10 thousand years BC, it was discovered in underground cities under the ice of Antarctica in the area of ​​Queen Maud Land. As far as I know, in order to get there, you need a key and a rite of passage, since this place is guarded by guards.

These devices can move both under water and in the air, and they do it at great speed. They move on special round-shaped aircraft, which are not like airplanes and airplanes known to us. I also told their technical characteristics to Shtilhe …

I also informed Shtilhe about objects that are located in all parts of the world in the mountains. With the help of these objects, in one moment it is possible to destroy all cities and industrial centers of all countries on earth, regardless of the state and social system. As far as I understood from the explanations at the Headquarters and as I pointed out about this in my articles, in all parts of the world there are spheres dug into the mountains made of extra strong metal that cannot be sawed or blown up.

Within these spheres are certain mechanisms that, when activated, generate a cloud similar to the sun. This cloud erupts into the atmosphere, it is controllable, i.e. can move along a certain trajectory. It explodes in the right place.

The air defense system of ancient civilizations or civilizations is a separate huge mystery that we still have to solve.

Now it becomes quite understandable the “secret” stamp imposed on the official research of artifacts of ancient civilizations, as well as why, at the official level, all these research and the artifacts themselves are hushed up or denied. 

The targeted campaigns to falsify our real history are also becoming understandable. In addition, this information sheds light on the question of what kind of vehicles attacked the squadron of American Admiral Richard Byrd near Queen Maud Land in 1947.

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Ancient recipe books are like a panacea for modern diseases!

Ancient recipe books are like a panacea for modern diseases! 98

Six months ago, the world media reported that the mixture, created according to the Old English medical book of the 9th century, destroyed up to 90 percent of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, one of the antibiotic-resistant strains of this bacterium that causes barley in the eyes. Only the antibiotic vancomycin, the main drug used in the treatment of MRSA, had the same effect.

And the drug, which was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine, would not have surprised the doctors of Ancient China.

Chinese pharmacologist Tu Yuyu discovered the drug artemisinin in the 70s, which cures malaria.

But the plant from which this substance is obtained, wormwood (Artemisia annua L), has been used to treat fevers, including those caused by malaria, as early as the 3rd or 4th centuries.

Tu Yuyu invented a cure for malaria after reading traditional Chinese medicine texts that described herbal recipes. The path to discovery and recognition was very difficult because hundreds of plant species had to be tested. In addition, the political atmosphere in China in the 70s was difficult. But her tenacity paid off. Artemisinin has now become an important antimalarial drug.

Her story is unusual in modern medicine. However, artemisinin is far from the only substance isolated from plants. Another malaria drug, quinine, is made from the bark of the officinalis L tree found in the rainforests of South America. The pain reliever morphine was isolated from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L), and the poison strychnine from the tree Strychnos nux-vomica L.

These plants were used in medicine for centuries and even millennia before chemists were able to isolate their most active components.

Is it possible that physicians can discover new drugs simply by studying ancient medical treatises, as did Tu Yuyu or English specialists? The answer to this question is ambiguous. Ancient pharmacological texts in Chinese, Arabic, Greek, or any other ancient language are not easy to study for a number of reasons.

Ancient recipe books

Ancient pharmacological texts are usually a list of recipes without explanation, whether they were used, and in what cases. Submit your favorite cookbook. You hardly cook all the recipes from it. If you do not make notes in it, then no one will know what recipes you tried, and so much you liked them. Commentaries are rarely found in ancient pharmacological books.

It is often difficult to determine which plants are listed in an ancient recipe. Nowadays, the Linnaean system is used to classify plants, where the genus and species of the plant are indicated. But before the Linnaean system became generally accepted, the classification of plants was extremely erratic.

Different local names could be used to denote the same plant. This means that it is not always possible to accurately determine which plants are discussed in the book. If we cannot accurately translate the names in old recipes, how can we evaluate their effectiveness?

Disease definitions also have links to local culture. This means that each nation has a different definition of the disease. For example, the ancient Greeks and Romans considered fever to be a disease, but in modern medicine it is seen as a symptom of the disease.

The millennial collection of recipes “Kitab al-tabih”, written by Ibn Sayar al-Warak.

In the Greek and Roman texts, there are many descriptions of wave-like fever, that is, a fever that repeats every few days.

In modern medicine, wave-like fever is a symptom of malaria, but it is also a symptom of other diseases. Should scientists searching for new cures for malaria test all ancient Greek and Roman remedies for “wave-like fever”?

Holistic Medicine

The most important aspect, according to medical historians, is that each medical system must be considered holistically. This means that it is wrong to focus only on those aspects of ancient medicine that are successful by modern standards, and brush aside everything else.

Although there are effective medicines in ancient medicine, many of them are useless or even harmful. For example, in our time, hardly anyone will dare to be treated by taking huge doses of hellebore, as the ancient Greeks did.

But even with these shortcomings, there is great potential in ancient medical books for new drug discovery. This requires collaboration between pharmacologists, historians and ethno-pharmacologists who study traditional medicine from different cultures.

Such cooperation is not an easy process, because each of the specialists feels that they speak different languages. But the great examples mentioned above remind us that the result can be outstanding, especially when looking for cures for common diseases.

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