The Hortus Sanitatis

For me, one of the wonders of the world is the Hortus Sanitatis. This amazing book, which translates as ‘The Garden of Health’ was printed in Mainz, Germany in 1491. It is one of Europe’s earliest medical texts and is a glorious fusion of late medieval science and folklore. At the time it was the encyclopedia of all knowledge and folklore on plants, herbs, animals, and minerals. It combines elements of natural history with subjects traditionally found in herbals, accompanied by mythical fantasies and fables.

This photo is from an original copy at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew in England and I am grateful to Kew for allowing me to reproduce it on the Archeus website. I was lucky enough to get to look through Kew’s original copy when I worked there. It was one of the things that inspired me when developing Archeus.

You might have to save your pennies if you want to buy one. One sold at auction a year or so ago for over £60,000!

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