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Paula S. De Vos, Compound remedies: Galenic pharmacy from the Ancient Mediterranean to New Spain [Book Review]

Totelin, Laurence ORCID: 2022. Paula S. De Vos, Compound remedies: Galenic pharmacy from the Ancient Mediterranean to New Spain [Book Review]. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 77 (3) , pp. 372-374. 10.1093/jhmas/jrac019
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Paula De Vos’s fascinating story in Compound Remedies: Galenic Pharmacy from the Ancient Mediterranean to New Spain is that of the Mexico City pharmacy of apothecary Jacinto de Herrera y Campos, whose possessions had been sequestered and inventoried as part of a criminal investigation in 1755. De Vos uses the inventory (translated in an abridged form in Appendix 4) as a structuring tool to investigate five categories of pharmaceutical objects and attendant activities (simple drugs, pharmaceutical equipment, compound drugs, materia medica of the Nahuas, alchemical drugs), and their history through the eighteenth century. Indeed, De Vos’s ambitious aim is to provide a longue durée study of Galenic pharmacy, from its origins in Graeco-Roman Antiquity to the Early Modern period, to show its resilience and adaptability, and its ability to defy overly simple dichotomies, such as those between “Orient” and “Occident,” and “ancient” and “modern.” De Vos invites us to challenge our assumptions regarding colonial histories of science, our expectation to learn about what was different, to see “the colonial as derivative, peripheral, ‘exotic’—valuable only as a supplement to a story already known, and one original to Europe” (p. 13). De Vos’s global history of the Galenic tradition successfully shows it to have always been “in transit” (p. 15), always changing, and Galen himself (the Greek-physician from Pergamum active at Rome in the second and early third century CE) a point of transit in the creation of the tradition, rather than its creator.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1201 Latin America (General)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0022-5045
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 July 2023
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2023 02:31

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