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Pedanius Dioscorides


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(c. 40–c.90 ad) Greek physician

Little is known of the life of Dioscorides except that he was born in Anazarbus (now in Turkey) and became a surgeon to Emperor Nero's armies, having most probably learned his skills at Alexandria and Tarsus. Many writings are attributed to him but the only book for which his authorship is undisputed is De materia medica (On Medicine). This pharmacopeia remained the standard medical text until the 17th century, undergoing many revisions and additions and greatly influencing both Western and Islamic cultures. It describes animal derivatives and minerals used therapeutically but is most important for the description of over 600 plants, including notes on their habitat and the methods of preparation and medicinal use of the drugs they contain. Many of the common and scientific plant names in use today originate from Dioscorides, and the yam family, Dioscoreaceae, is named for him.

Subjects: Science and Mathematics.


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