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Arabic and Persian plant names in the Codex Vindobonensis

The Codex Vindobonensis Med. GR. 1 Der Osterreichischen Nationalbibliothek (sometimes referred to as the Juliana Anicia codex and hereafter referred to as ‘The Codex’) is a collection of five texts connected with natural history produced in the city now known as Istanbul, then Constantinople, in 512CE. As its official title suggests the codex now held in the National Library of Austria. Photographic facsimiles were issued in 1906 and again in 1970. Copies of both facsimiles are held by the Museum’s library.

The Codex includes an illustrated text consisting of 387 folios concerning of herbaceous plants used for medicinal purposes. Three hundred and eighty-three plants are depicted accompanied by text from Pandanios Dioscorides’ Materia Medica (c.70 C.E.). Quotes from Krateuas’ Herbal (2nd or 1st century B.C,E.- the full herbal does not survive) and Galen of Pergamon’s De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis et facultatibus (c.150 C.E.) also appear on folios up to 94v. Annotations in Arabic and Persian were added at some point. Two analyses of the illustrations in relation to modern plant names have been attempted in the past 110 years. E. Emmanuel (1912) compared the images with specimens in the Boisser Herbarium in Geneva in conjunction with the Hanbuch der Pharmakognosie von A Tschirchto make identifications of the plants depicted. Subsequently, commenting on the 1970 facsimile Hans Gerstinger made use of the Greek names to provide determinations. Attention to the Arabic and Persian annotations has been limited since the arrival of The Codex in Austria in the mid-16th century. This dataset provides an analysis of those additions. The earlier identifications of Emmanuel and Gerstinger are also included to allow comparisons with Arabic and Persian names. The meanings and origins of the Greek names are also compared with the Arabic and Persian additions and this has proved particularly useful in identifying new information added to codex by scholars from the Muslim world. It is hoped that the dataset provided here may shed some light on plant knowledge in the Islamic world of the Medieval and Early Renaissance periods.


  • Dioscorides’ (c. 70 CE) Materia Medica (c.70 C.E.). 2000 English translation by T.A. Osbaldeston and R.P.A.Wood ISBN : 062023435 Galen of Pergamon (c.150 C.E.) De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis et facultatibus
  • Hanbuch der Pharmakognosie von A Tschirch Leipzig 1909.
  • E. Emanuel "Etude comparative sur les plantes dessinées dans le Codex Constantinopolitanus de Dioscoride". Schweizerische Wochenshrift für Chemie u. Pharmazie , 61. 1912.
  • "Dioskurides: codex Vindobonesis med. Gr 1 der Osterreichishen Nationalbibliothek, commentary to the facsimile by H. Gerstinger" Gratz 1970.

Data and Resources

Cite this as

Hanouf Al-Alawi; John Hunnex (2022). Arabic and Persian plant names in the Codex Vindobonensis [Data set]. Natural History Museum.
Retrieved: 11:24 17 Apr 2024 (UTC) BibTeX

Additional Info

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Primary contributors
Al-Alawi, Hanouf;
Hunnex, John
Other contributors
Last updated April 25, 2022
Last resource update April 25, 2022 (Arabic and Persian plant names in the Codex Vindobonensis)
Created March 30, 2022
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