Ibn Abi Usaibia

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Ibn Abi Usaibia (1203-1270) (ابن أبي أصيبعة) was the compiler and author of a history of medicine which is organized as histories of notable physicians, a book about 700 pages long. The title has been put into English as History of Physicians.[1]


His full name was Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa Muʾaffaq al-Dīn Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad Ibn Al-Qāsim Ibn Khalīfa al-Khazrajī. Ibn Abi Usaibia was born at Damascus, a descendant of the Banu Khazraj tribe and the son of a physician, and studied medicine at Damascus and Cairo. In 1236 he was appointed physician to a new hospital in Cairo, but he surrendered the appointment the following year to take up a post given him by the ruler of Damascus in Salkhad near that city. There he lived and died.[2] His only surviving work is Lives of the Physicians. In that work he mentions another work written by himself, but it has not survived.[1]

Lives of the Physicians[edit]

The title in Arabic ʿUyūn ul-Anbāʾ fī Ṭabaqāt ul-Aṭibbāʾ (Arabic: عيون الأنباء في طبقات الأطباء‎‎) is translatable loosely and expansively as "selected historical accounts of lives of physicians, organized in historical groups". The early chapters are almost wholly about the physicians of ancient Greece. The rest of the book is mostly about the physicians of medieval Islam. There are also chapters on Syriac and Indian physicians. A first version appeared in 1245-1246 and was dedicated to the vizier of Damascus. A second and enlarged version was produced by the same author, though it is uncertain whether the new version was made public in the lifetime of the author.[2]


In year 1884 an edition was published in Arabic curated by August Müller (Königsberg, 1884). Today the Arabic text is online at AlWaraq.net and elsewhere. A full translation into English is at Tertullian.org.


  1. ^ a b Roger Pearse (year 2011), Preface to the Online Edition -- the online edition of the Arabic-to-English translation of Ibn Abi Usaibia's History of Physicians, translated by Lothar Kopf.
  2. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). The entry for Ibn Usaibi‘a in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica is at Ref.

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