Cambridge To Digitize 8,000 Gruesome Medieval Medical Recipes
While nowadays you might have some chicken soup to fight a cold, a new project unearthing manuscripts up to 1,000 years old reveals the bizarre medical remedies recommended by those in the medieval era, Amarachi Orie reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: Most of the manuscripts date to the 14th or 15th centuries, with the oldest being 1,000 years old.
The violence of medieval society is detailed in the recipes, from gruesome animal-derived treatments to advice on how to set broken bones or determine whether a skull has been fractured.
The UK's Cambridge University Library has launched the two-year project to digitize, catalog, and conserve the more than 180 medieval manuscripts containing approximately 8,000 unedited, handwritten medical recipes.
Most of the manuscripts date to the 14th or 15th centuries, with the oldest being 1,000 years old. Some are simple pocketbooks designed to be carried around and could have been made by medical practitioners themselves, according to a news release from the University of Cambridge Wednesday.
Drawings of urine flasks, illustrating the different colors of a patient's urine, with their ailments described in roundels above, 15th century.
The recipes typically comprise of a short series of simple instructions, similar to a modern-day prescription or cookery book. In the texts, there are common ingredients that we are familiar with today, including herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, and mint, as well as spices such as cumin, pepper, and ginger.
However, there are also some questionable ones, particularly those deriving from animals. Suffering from gout? One medieval treatment involved stuffing a puppy with snails and sage and roasting the animal over a fire.
The rendered fat was then used to make an ointment. An alternative recipe proposed salting an owl and baking it until it could be ground into a powder and mixed with boar's grease to make an ointment to rub onto the sufferer's body.
What about cataracts? One recipe suggested mixing a hare's gall bladder with honey and applying it to the eye with a feather. This was a three-night course of treatment.