Mesue the Elder, Persian physician

Mesue the Elder, Persian physician

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Mesue the Elder (777-857), Christian Persian physician, at left, being received by the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid. This Caliph was the fifth and most famous ruler of the Abbasid dynasty that ruled an Islamic empire from Baghdad (in present-day Iraq), from 750-1258. Mesue is a Latinised form. The physician's full Arabic name is Abu Zakariya Yuhanna ibn Masawaih. He was personal physician to four caliphs. He came to Baghdad from Gundishapur, which had been the intellectual centre of the Sassanid Empire (226- 651). Coloured artwork of an original engraving from the 1883 edition of Vies des Savants Illustres.

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