The House of Cleopatra and Dioscorides. Located on the island of Delos, Greece.

 ”Cleopatra, daughter of Adrastus of Myrrhinous, set up this image of her husband Dioscorides…” So reads the Greek inscription written on the state-base. As you may have already noted, these statues, and the house which contained them, were not owned by the famous Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII. Rather, an Athenian couple, offering us insight into residential life on Delos during the 2nd century BC. ‘Cleopatra’, after all, is a name of Greek origin.

The house itself is fairly typical of the larger homes in the town’s Theatre Quarter district, with 12 rooms arranged around 2 open courtyards. The placement of these statues within the house may have been significant in relation to visibility from the streets outside, for the pleasure of their owners, or for impact on visitors to the household.

Recommended reading: Lisa Nevett’s Domestic Space in Classical Antiquity (2010). Photos courtesy of and taken by: Bernard GagnonHeiko Gorski, and Geraki

Folio 90V, a description of Mandrake

The Naples Dioscorides  preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli, is an early seventh century Greek herbal based on the De Materia Medica of the first-century Greek military physician Dioscorides (Dioscurides)containing descriptions of plants and  their medicinal uses.


Common Bush Hopper (Ampittia dioscorides)

Also known as the bush hopper, the common bush hopper is a species of skipper buttefly found throughout India and parts of Asia. Like most butterflies the bush hopper feeds almost exclusively on nectar which it finds on flowers and other plants. Also like all skippers the common bush hopper flies in a unique “skipping” pattern.



Image Source(s)

Canapa domestica e canapa selvatica dal Dioscurides Neapolitanus [Codex ex Vindobonensis Graecus 1] - Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli

Dioscurides, Herbarium (De materia medica) - in greco
Ms. membr. sec. VI ex.-VII in., cc 172, mm 290x250, scrittura greca maiuscola biblica
Segn. Bibl. Naz. Nap. Ms. ex-Vind. Gr. 1 

[da qui]


The Vienna Dioscurides is an early 6th-century illuminated manuscript of De Materia Medica by Dioscorides in Greek. It is an important and rare example of a late antique scientific text. The 491 vellum folios contain more than 400 pictures of animals and plants, most done in a naturalistic style.

The manuscript was created in about 515 and was made for the Byzantine princess Juliana Anicia, the daughter of Emperor Anicius Olybrius. Although it was originally created as a luxury copy, there is some indication that in later centuries it was used daily as a hospital textbook. It includes some annotations in Arabic.

An Arabic translation of the manuscript was discovered in Istanbul in the 1560s by the Flemish diplomat Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq who was in the employ of Emperor Ferdinand I. 



A whole bunch of manuscripts from the Muslim Golden Age of Science have gone online at the Qatar Digital Library!

An Arabic version of De Materia Medica, an encyclopedia of herbs and medicine written in the first century AD by Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek-born, Roman physician.

Iraq, Baghdad (1334)

One of the only three recorded copies of an influential treatise on the construction and use of astrolabes by Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (973-1048), containing 122 diagrams.

Afghanistan (early 1000s)

A translation of Ptolemy’s mathematical and astronomical treatise, The Almagest.

Uncertain date and provenance.

Al Jazari’s The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, which was inspired by an earlier, 9th-century translation of Archimedes’ writings on water clocks. Devices such as the “Elephant Clock” were the most accurate time-keeping pieces before the first pendulum clocks were built in the 17th century by the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens.

Turkey (1206)


Mark Strauss reports for io9:

Between the 9th and 19th centuries, Arabic-speaking scholars translated Greek, Latin and even Sanskrit texts on topics such as medicine, mathematics and astronomy, fostering a vibrant scientific culture within the Islamic world. Some of the most influential texts are now available at the Qatar Digital Library.

The library, a joint project of the British Library and the Qatar Foundation, offers free access to 25,000 pages of medieval Islamic manuscripts.