The Florence Fragments

Jaob Schmidt-Madsen jacob at FABULARASA.DK
Tue Mar 22 09:24:58 UTC 2011

Dear all

This is my first posting on the list. I am student of Indology under
Associate Professor and Head of Department Kenneth Zysk at the University
of Copenhagen.

I am currently working on an unpublished medical palm-leaf manuscript
discovered in a collection of papyri at the Istituto Papirologico
“G.Vitelli” in Florence, Italy. The manuscript was apparently bought from
the (in)famous Egyptian antiques dealer Maurice Nahman (1868-1948)
sometime in the first half of the 20th century together with a batch of
papyri. How the manuscript ended up with the papyri in his shop in Cairo,
is one of the mysteries that initially attracted me to the project.

The six leaves of the manuscript is written in Sanskrit with the Mishra
variant of the Sinhala script used primarily for writing foreign languages
in Sri Lanka. The text itself is mostly a creative sampling of quotations
from classical medical texts with the main focus being on Caraka Samhita
1.27 (on food and drink), Sushruta Samhita 1.45 and Astanga Sangraha 1.6
(both on liquid substances). The quotations are bundled together under
frequent headings, such as "eight kinds of water", "dried meat", and "good
effects of Gangetic (rain) water". Certain headings, or short notes, also
seem to show non-Sanskrit - possibly Sinhalese - influence (e.g.

So far I have not been able to establish whether the manuscript is unique,
or a copy of an existing text, but I would be very interested to know your
ideas on what the origins of this oddly misplaced manuscript might
actually be.

I have set up a project site containing a complete transliteration,
translation, and index of the manuscript (click "Florence" in the top
menu), together with a gallery displaying the six leaves recto and verso
(click "Gallery" in the top menu):

For ease of reference I have listed all the quotations identified on the
same page (which also links to the translations of the different leaves):

I hope some of you will find the time to browse by the site and let me
know if anything potentially interesting comes to mind.



Jacob Schmidt-Madsen
Department of Indology
University of Copenhagen

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