Armenian Tea

Rediscovery

AMan.jpgThe earliest medico-botanical treatises date to antiquity. Botany and medicine was essentially instep until the 17th century when both arts turned scientific and at this juncture botanical works would essentially ignore medicinal uses while medical works were devoid of plant lore. Yet, the medicinal use of herbs continue as an alternate form of medicine and remain popular in various forms to the present day despite the questionable efficacy of many popular herbs and the reliance of many herbal recommendations on superstition and astrology. The fact that most drugs were originally plant-based has encouraged a new look on the medicinal properties of plants.

A Sumerian tablet from 3000 BCE contains a dozen prescriptions and proscribes plant sources. In China, the Pen T'Sao Ching, assumed authored by the legendary Emperor Shen Nung in 2700 BCE, but probably written in the first century, contains about 100 herbal remedies. The Ebers Papyrus, a medical treatise from ancient Egypt dates to 1550 BCE but contains material from 5 to 20 centuries earlier. In Greece, Theophrastus great botanical work Enquiry into Plants devotes a chapter (book IX) into herbs as medicines. The earliest known Greek herbal written in the 3rd century BCE by Diocles of Carystus does not survive but a few fragments from an illustrated herbal of Krateuas survive from the 1st century BCE. The herbal (De Materia Medica) by Pedanios Dioscorides of Anazarba, a Roman army physician, written in the year 65, the most famous ever written, was slavishly referred to, copied, and commented on for 1500 years.

The great Armenian epoch of herbal manuscript appeared in the 5th century (Yeznik Kokhpaci, Davit Anhakht, Ghazar Parpeci, Agatangegos, Anania Shirakaci, etc) and enhanced from the 11th centuries of which the most notable are: Angitac Anpet (XI AD ) by Amirdovlat Amasiaci; Germac Mkhitarutyum (XII AD) by Mkhitar Heraci; Meknutyun Albert Meci Yagags gaghtniac kakanac by Grikor Magistros ( X AD), Bgshkaran by Gagik Hetum (X-XI AD) ; Haybusak by Alishan, etc.

 


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