Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/228

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still or suffered decline, and the few writers who attained any note were little more than compilers of and commentators on the more ancient authorities. Greco-Roman medicine came to an end in the west with the fall of Rome in 476 A.D., while the capture of Alexandria and burning of its great library by the Arabians about 640 ended the intellectual influence of that city. In the Eastern or Byzantine Empire, Greek medicine continued for a longer time, overlapping the Arabian period. Among the important writers or compilers of this later (post-Galenic) period may be mentioned Oribasius (A.D. 326-403), Alexander of Tralles (525-605), and Paul of Ægina or Paulus Æginæta (about 600). Ultimately Greco-Byzantine medicine declined with the decay of the Eastern Empire, its last distinguished exponent being John Actuarius (died 1283); and the last remnant of the Roman Empire and of direct Greek influence came to an end with the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453.

Arabian Medicine.—Soon after the Roman Empire fell, another people, the obscure Arabian tribes, energized by the religion founded by Mahomet, burst forth and established a vast dominion under whose fostering care enlightenment and learning were carried along during the centuries while Europe floundered in darkness and chaos. The Moslem era is dated from the Hegira, or flight of Mahomet from Mecca, in 622. Within a few years from this the Arabians, organized and inspired by the new religion, overran and conquered western Asia, northern Africa, and Spain, and over that wide territory established a dominion that lasted for six centuries. This dominion soon broke up into two independent divisions or sovereignties, the eastern Caliphate, embracing the Asiatic territories, and the western Caliphate, in Spain. About 750 two enlightened dynasties were founded, one in the east with its capital at Bagdad, the other in Spain with its capital at Cordova, both of which encouraged and developed culture and education to a high plane. The Moorish dominion in Spain was broken in 1212, and the eastern Caliphate was overthrown by the Mongols in 1258. The Arabian period of culture therefore covered the years from about 750 to 1200.

During this period the Arabian scholars collected and translated the learning of the Greeks, Persians and Indians, and cultivated the arts and sciences, especially architecture, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, geography, alchemy and medicine. In some branches they made notable advances, as in mathematics; but in the main their chief service was more in conserving the learning of the past than in creating new knowledge. Important schools, libraries and hospitals were established, especially at Bagdad and Cordova, but also at Damascus, Samarcand, Bokhara, Seville, Toledo, Granada and numerous other cities.

In medicine the Arabians displayed great interest and proficiency,