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Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, December 2012

PROSPER ALPINI (1553-1617). De medicina Aegyptiorum. Paris: Apud viduam Gulielmi Pelé, & Joannem Duval, 1646.

Alpini, an Italian physician and botanist, graduated from Padua and traveled through Greece, Crete, and Egypt from 1580 to 1583. Following his travels, he returned to Padua where he remained as professor of botany and director of the botanical garden until his death. This work was one of several books that resulted from his travels and is a comprehensive account of medicine as it was practiced in Egypt.

While in Egypt  Alpini studied its plant life ; his work, De plantis Aegypti  liber, includes over seventy full-page illustrations of Egyptian plants, among them the earliest representations of the coffee and cotton plants. Also included in this work is Alpini’s, De balsam, which sets forth, in the form of a dialogue between an Egyptian and a Hebrew physician, the merits and uses of balsam.

Alpini illustration