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AvenzoarAKA Ibn Zuhr

Born: c. 1090
Birthplace: Seville, Spain
Died: 1162
Location of death: Seville, Spain
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Muslim [1]
Race or Ethnicity: Middle Eastern
Occupation: Doctor

Executive summary: Prominent Arab physician

Avenzoar, or Ibn Zuhr, full name Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik ibn Abi al-Ala Zuhr, Arabian physician who flourished at the beginning of the 12th century, was born at Seville, where he exercised his profession with great reputation. His ancestors had been celebrated. as physicians for several generations, and his son was afterwards held by the Arabians to be even more eminent in his profession than Avenzoar himself. He was a contemporary of AverroŽs, who, according to Leo Africanus, heard his lectures, and learned physic of him. He belonged, in many respects, to the Dogmatists or Rational School, rather than to the Empirics. He was a great admirer of Galen; and in his writings he protests emphatically against quackery and the superstitious remedies of the astrologers. He shows no inconsiderable knowledge of anatomy in his remarkable description of inflammation and abscess of the mediastinum in his own person, and its diagnosis from common pleuritis as well as from abscess and dropsy of the pericardium. In cases of obstruction or of palsy of the gullet, his three modes of treatment are ingenious. He proposes to support the strength by placing the patient in a tepid bath of nutritious liquids, that might enter by cutaneous imbibition, but does not recommend this. He speaks more favorably of the introduction of food into the stomach by a silver tube; and he strongly recommends the use of nutritive enemata. From his writings it would appear that the offices of physician, surgeon and apothecary were already considered as distinct professions. He wrote a book entitled The Method of Preparing Medicines and Diet, which was translated into Hebrew in the year 1280, and from there into Latin by Paravicius, whose version, first printed at Venice, 1490, has passed through several editions.

[1] Historian of science George Sarton asserts that Avenzoar was a Muslim, not a Jew as is often claimed.

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