On the eastern bounds of Islam, Gondeshapur in Persia had become a center for Greek medicine and learning after scholars migrated there in A. The new Muslim elites who occupied Gondeshapur were determined to revive, absorb, and spread what they saw as this lost learning. They also wanted to build on it. Greek science became the basis for the development of Arabic medicine.
The early theoretical basis of Islamic medicine drew on the Greek and Roman theory of humors, attributed to Hippocrates, writing in the fourth century B.
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The system of humors divides human fluids into four basic types: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. The balance between each one determines whether an individual is sick or well. Patients became depressed, for example, because of a surfeit of black bile. Health could be restored by rebalancing them with diets and purges, and explains the importance that Islamic medicine placed on hygiene and diet. Gifted translators gave the Muslims access to these Greek and Latin texts.
Scholars such as Yahya ibn Masawayh known in the West as Ioannis Mesue and his student, Hunayn ibn Ishaq known as Johannitius in Latin produced over 50 translations alone. Both men were Syrian Nestorians, a denomination of Christianity considered heretical in the eastern Roman Empire, and had been forced to flee to Persia. Their ability to speak several languages—including Greek and Syriac a Semitic language close to Arabic —was in high demand. In other cities across the new Islamic world, Muslim patrons hired these men.
By the s, drawing from a growing body of Greek, Persian, and Sanskrit works translated into Arabic, Islamic medicine quickly became the most sophisticated in the world. Christians, Jews, Hindus, and scholars from many other traditions, looked to Arabic as a language of science. Doctors of different faiths worked together, debating and studying with Arabic as the common tongue.
The Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad enjoyed a long period of intellectual experimentation that lasted throughout the 10th and 11th centuries.
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Among its many glittering figures was Al-Razi, known in Latin as Rhazes, a Persian pharmacologist and physician who ran the hospital in Baghdad. But the brightest star in the Baghdad firmament was undoubtedly the extraordinary Ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna. Already a doctor at age 18, his great volume Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb—Canon of Medicine —became one of the most famous medical works of all time, and an extraordinary exercise in the bringing together of different disciplines and cultures.
The reconciling of practical science, thought, and religion ensured Canon was studied by European medics until the 18th century. At the westernmost limits of the Islamic world, Muslim Spain was also undergoing a period of scholarly development. For instance, De materia medica—On Medical Material —the classic treatise of Dioscorides, written at the time of the emperor Nero in the first century A. This practical study of the medicinal qualities of plants and herbs, including a study of cannabis and peppermint, was now accessible to more scholars than ever before.
It also drew upon the work of previous scholars, such as seventh-century Byzantine medic Paul of Aegina. Translated into Latin in the 12th century, Method was a foundational medical text in Europe well into the Renaissance.
Religion and Science
Both men reflect the strong ties between philosophy and medicine during the Islamic golden age. Moses Maimonides became the personal doctor of Saladin, the Muslim champion against the Crusaders. While writing about medicine predominated in Islamic culture, the practice of medicine made great progress as well. New treatments were developed for specific ailments, including a revolutionary treatment to treat cataracts. The 10th-century physician Al-Mawsili developed a hollow syringe to remove cataracts via suction; the technique has improved with time, but the basic premise of the procedure remains sound to this day.
Ibn Isa, a 10th-century scholar from Iraq, wrote perhaps what was the most complete book of eye diseases, the Notebook of the Oculist, detailing conditions.
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The book was translated into Latin in followed by several more languages, allowing it to serve as an authoritative work for centuries. The greatest advances in surgery of the era were detailed by Al-Zahrawi who invented a wide range of instruments: forceps, pincers, scalpels, catheters, cauteries, lancets, and specula, all carefully illustrated in his writings. His recommendations on pain-reduction techniques, such as the use of very cold sponges, were followed by Western medics for centuries. One of his greatest innovations was the use of catgut for stitching up patients after an operation, a practice that is still in use today.
Yet, the metaphors we refer to in this article have also become so ubiquitous that they have become objects of parody. The Library of Alexandria, for example, has its own series of Web-based memes: 2. Whereas early modern librarians defined their own conceptual space, and contemporary librarians still attempt to do so, the Web provides a platform where metaphors can be co-opted, remixed and returned to us with unintended meanings [ 19 ].
This is driven by overuse of particular metaphors and has severe implications for their meaning in the future. What is the significance of this sheer breadth of metaphors surrounding the library?
Are these metaphors nothing more than insubstantial flourishes or is there some value in considering metaphors as revelatory expressions of perceptions of the library, worthy of study as conscious or unconscious mechanics for criticism or catalysts for change? Individual metaphors, scripts and schemas, as mental shortcuts, may be quite specific to the mind that employs them.
However, within a contextualized case study, or across a number of such studies, categories of meaning may cluster to provide sufficient explanatory power [ 22 ]. The Ancient Library of Alexandria, based on the City of Alexandria in Egypt and founded by Ptolemy I Soter, functioned as a major centre of scholarship from its construction in the third century BC until its destruction: a date of much disagreement, but likely to have been after 48BC [ 30 ]. The library, reputed to be one of the most significant collections in the ancient world, contained hundreds of thousands of scrolls, many apparently confiscated from ships that made harbour in Alexandria with copies created by scribes and returned to the original owner [ 31 ].
As a result, LIS scholars [ 32 ] have speculated that it contains an almost complete collection of the major works of the Ancient Era, lost entirely when it was destroyed.
The Library of Alexandria is therefore frequently referred to as the first universal library, and provides a powerful metaphorical schema for the potential of repeating this achievement using digital technologies. Studies investigating metaphors in LIS have been generally qualitative in nature, so it was necessary to look elsewhere for suitable methods to answer our research questions.
The chosen methodology comprised three phases: first, in the data collection phase, relevant publications were identified; second, metadata and full text of relevant sections were analysed to assess publication dates, word frequencies, and usage patterns for each metaphor, and cross-citation patterns; and third, the relevant sections of each paper were qualitatively coded using content analysis [ 35 ] to analyse how each metaphor was deployed.
Digital libraries encompassing general digital library discussion and specific characteristics of digital libraries. Google books and related projects encompassing Google projects, which represent a significant sub-category of the literature. Information Age encompassing more general discussions which draw on the concepts of digital information and the information society. Libraries encompassing more general library discussions, particularly around the concept of the universal library. This considered word frequency in titles, the distribution of publication dates, the types of publication where metaphors were found, and the rate of growth of each metaphor through time.
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Second, the full text notes were exported from Zotero as TEI-compliant XML 15 for analysis in Voyant Tools, 16 and the quotes were analysed for word frequency, the number of direct quotes from the text of the Library of Babel and to assist in identifying usage patterns for each metaphor. Finally, the quotes were used to qualitatively explore citations: we looked at resources which contained the most frequently used quotes from the text of the Library of Babel to discover whether they cited other papers found in the sample, to identify whether particular texts were recognized as the catalyst for these metaphors.
Additionally, we analysed a sample of 50 randomly selected journal articles which mentioned the Library of Alexandria, to ascertain whether they referred to a classical 17 or historical 18 source: in other words, whether reference to the Library were evidenced by a primary or secondary source. Our categorization focused on high-level topics for each publication. Additionally, we undertook sentiment weighting 19 by hand to ascertain how positively each metaphor was used on average.
A variety of automated sentiment analysis methods exist, but human coding can still provide a useful method of analysis when nuance needs taking into account [ 41 ]. We therefore used hand coding for our sentiment analysis, with two raters independently rating the entire dataset. The joint probability of agreement for the raters was The results are therefore reasonably reliable given the small number of raters used. All results are reported as an average of the two ratings.
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The sentiment was weighted on how positively each metaphor was presented within the publication, rather than whether the article itself was positive. Table 1 shows the classifications used for coding, including a brief explanation of each category:. The findings are presented in two sections: the first contains the results from analysing bibliographic metadata and full text, while the second presents the findings from the qualitative classification. Examples drawn from particular publications are used throughout to enrich the analysis.
Breakdown of publications in sample by type of publication and mention of Alexandria or Babel. Academic journals provide the majority of publications in our corpus, and books the second largest category. Conference papers were not strongly represented, although this may be because their full text is relatively inaccessible. In addition, 36 blog posts, 25 magazine or newspaper articles, and 25 publications classified as other were found.
Babel was mentioned more frequently than Alexandria by publications in our corpus, with Journal articles were the only category where Alexandria was more frequently mentioned. This could suggest that Alexandria is more commonly engaged in academic discourse, while the dominance of Babel in books suggests that authors may prefer to draw on literary references in long form. Table showing the date of publication for all resources in the sample, broken down by the type of metaphor.
Related Mans Place in Nature (Modern Library Science)
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