Working Groups

Ancient and Medieval Sciences

The Ancient and Medieval Sciences Working Group meets monthly to discuss a colleague’s works-in-progress or to discuss readings on the history of ancient and medieval sciences that are of particular interest to participants.

Meetings are usually held at the Consortium offices in Philadelphia from 6:00 to 7:30 on second Thursdays.  Scholars located anywhere can also participate online.

To join this working group, click "Request group membership" at right. You will receive instructions for participating online or in person.


  • Nahyan Fancy

    Nahyan Fancy is Associate Professor of History at DePauw University. His research interests are in medieval Islamic science and medicine, and medieval Islamic intellectual history.


  • Darin Hayton

    Darin Hayton is Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Haverford College. His research concerns the history of science in Early Modern Europe, Central Europe, and the late Byzantine Empire.


Upcoming Meetings (all times Eastern)

  • Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 6:00pm
    • E. Truitt, “The Clockwork Universe: Keeping Sacred and Secular Time” (Chap. 6 from her Medieval Robots)
    • E. Truitt, “Instruments of History: The Codex and the Clock”
  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 6:00pm


  • Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 6:00pm


  • Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 6:00pm


  • Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 6:00pm


Past Meetings

  • October 12, 2017
    • J. Davis, “A Royal English Medieval Astrolabe Made for Use in Northern Italy”
    • C. Eagleton, “‘Chaucer’s Own Astrolabe’: Text, Image and Object”
    • J. Bennett, “The So-Called ‘Chaucer Astrolabe’ from the Koelliker Collection, Milan”
    • M. Abuzayed & D. King, “From a Heavenly Arabic Poem to an Enigmatic Judaeo-Arabic Astrolabe”


    • E. Dekker, “A Close Look at Two Astrolabes and Their Star Tables”
    • E. Dekker, “Of Astrolabes and Dates and Dead Ends”


  • September 14, 2017
    • C. Eagleton, “Medieval Sundials and Manuscript Sources: The Transmission of Information about the Navicula and the Organum Ptolomei in Fifteenth-Century Europe”
    • J. Evans & M. Marée, “A Miniature Ivory Sundial with Equinox Indicator from Ptolemaic Tanis, Egypt”
    • D. King, “An Instrument of Mass Calculation made by Naṭūlus in Baghdad ca. 900”

    Optional (somewhat more technical) Readings:

    • M. Arnaldi, “An Ancient Rule for Making Portable Altitude Sundials from an “Unedited” Medieval Text of the Tenth Century”
    • M. Wright, “Greek and Roman Portable Sundials: An Ancient Essay in Approximation”
  • May 11, 2017
    • M. Osborn, “Anglo-Saxon Ethnobotany: Women's Reproductive Medicine in Leechbook III” in Health and Healing from the Medieval Garden (2015), 145–161.
    • C.M. Guardiola-Griffiths, “Homegrown: From the Woman’s Workplace to the Medieval Garden” La corónica 44 (2015): 39–65.
  • April 13, 2017


    • L. Voigts, “Anglo-Saxon Plant Remedies and the Anglo-Saxons” Isis 70 (1979): 250–68.
    • P. Rusche, “The Sources for Plant Names in Anglo-Saxon England and the Laud Herbal Glossary” Health and Healing from the Medieval Garden (2015), 128–144.


    • M. D’Aronco, “Gardens on Velum: Plants and Herbs in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts” Health and Healing from the Medieval Garden (2015), 101–127.
  • March 9, 2017
    • Wiston Black, “‘I will add what the Arab once taught’: Constantine the African in Northern European Medical Verse,” in Herbs and Healers from the Ancient Mediterranean through the Medieval West (Ashgate, 2012), 153–185.
    • K. Reeds and T. Kinukawa, “Medieval Natural History,” in Cambridge History of Science—Medieval Science (CUP), 569–589
  • February 9, 2017
    • U. Engelhardt, “Dietetics in Tang China and the first extant works of materia medica,” Innovation in Chinese Medicine, E. Hsu (ed.), (CUP, 2001), 173–191.
    • D. Harper, “Ancient and Medieval Chinese Recipes for Aphrodisiacs and Philters.” Asian Medicine 1.1(2005): 91–100.
    • R. Sterckx, “The Limits of Illustration: Animalia and Pharmacopeia from Guo Pu to Bencao gangmu,” Asian Medicine 4(2008): 357–394.
  • December 8, 2016
    J. Stannard, “Aspects of Byzantine Materia Medica,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers (1984): 205-211
    J. Scarborough, “Herbs of the Field and Herbs of the Garden in Byzantine Medicinal Pharmacy,” Byzantine Garden Culture (2002), 177-188
    A. Touwaide, “Latin Crusaders, Byzantine Herbals,” Visualizing Medieval Medicine (2006), 25-50
  • November 10, 2016

    The group discussed three articles:

    E. Savage-Smith, “Magic-Medicinal Bowls” in Science, Tools & Magic (1997), pp. 72–105

    E. Lev, “Reconstruction of the Inventory of materia medica used by members of the Jewish Community of Medieval Cairo …” in Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2006): 428–444

    L. Chipman, “Recipes by Hippocrates, Galen and Hunayn in the Epidemics and in Medieval Arabic Pharmacopoeias” in Epidemics in context (2012), pp. 285–301

  • October 13, 2016

    The group read three articles on ancient pharmacology:

    “Mithradates’ Antidote: A Pharmcological Ghost” by Laurence M. V. Totelin, Early Science and Medicine, Vol. 9, No. 1 (2004), pp. 1-19

    “Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Court of Cleopatra VII: Traces of Three Physicians” by John Scarborough, in Arsdall, Anne Van, and Graham, Timothy, eds. Medicine in the Medieval Mediterranean: Herbs and Healers from the Ancient Mediterranean through the Medieval West: Essays in Honor of John M. Riddle, Routledge, 2012.

    “A recipe for a headache: Translating and interpreting ancient Greek and Roman remedies” by Laurence M.V. Totelin, in Imhausen, Annette, and Pommerening, Tanja, eds. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde : Writings of Early Scholars in the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Rome, and Greece : Translating Ancient Scientific Texts, De Gruyter, 2011.

  • April 14, 2016

    The group discussed Peter Dear's "Afterword" for the Palgrave Handbook of Literature and Science and Mary Baine Campbell's chapter on "Literature" from The Cambridge History of Science: Volume 3, Early Modern Science (2006), edited by Katharine Park and Lorraine Daston.

Group Membership