The movement of early medieval medical knowledge: exchange in the Italian peninsula

WEDNESDAY 7 OCTOBER, 18.00-19.30

Claire Burridge (BSR; Cambridge)

This event will take place at the BSR. Due to social distancing requirements, there are a limited number of seats available and advance registration is required.  Please click here to reserve your place. Please note that, should you attend, you will be required to wear a mask for the duration of the event.

Medicine in the early middle ages (c. 500-1000) has generally been understood in relation to the inheritance and reception of classical knowledge. My analyses of eighth- and ninth-century medical remedies, however, reveal other influences: I have identified ingredients unrecorded in classical medical writings, ranging from products that reflect local conditions (such as beer and mead) to exotic substances from southeast Asia (including camphor and other resins). In this lecture, I shall present several case studies, tracking the appearance of a number of different non-classical ingredients, and consider the role of Italian centres of manuscript production in the introduction of these ingredients. Did Rome play a part in the exchange of medical knowledge (and ingredients) during this period?

Claire Burridge is currently a Residential Research Fellow at the BSR, having spent 2019-20 as a Rome Fellow. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2019 and will begin a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship at the University of Sheffield in May 2021. Broadly, Claire works on early medieval health and medicine and is particularly interested in exploring questions of medical practice during the Carolingian period. Her research draws on a range of disciplines, bringing together textual, archaeological, and biocodicological evidence to understand the relationships between, on the one hand, individuals’ health and lived experiences and, on the other hand, medical knowledge and perceptions of health and healing. Claire’s project at the BSR is her first foray into the digital humanities and lays the groundwork for a long-term, large-scale study of early medieval medicine that will be pursued during her Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship.