Tabula Picta 5v* – (conc.) Stylistic echoes Pt 2

5,000 words

The author’s rights are asserted.

Very long, but I’m taking a few weeks for other things and wanted to get this done.

SPEAKING about the Mashhad Dioscorides, Day discusses the circumstances in which its Arabic translation was made:

The Syriac connections are even more strongly brought out in the introduction, in which Mihran ibn Mansur said that he made his new Arabic translation from the Syriac translation of the original Greek made by “the most learned Rabban Hunain.”

This is Hunain ibn Ishaq al-Ibadi, a member of the Arab Christian tribe of Hira, who spent his life collecting Greek scientific texts and translating them into Syriac, as the head of the “House of Wisdom” in Baghdad, under the caliph Mutawakkil (847-861).

Florence E. Day, ‘Mesopotamian Manuscripts of Dioscorides’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, Vol. 8, No. 9 (May, 1950), pp. 274-280. quoted passage is from p.275

The golden age of Islamic medicine is dated between 800 and 1300 AD and it was in the earlier part of that period that Abū Zayd Ḥunain ibn Isḥāq al-‘Ibādī, an exceptional scholar and translator, emerged.

To the Latin west he was known as “Johannitius” but though his Al-Masā’il fī al-tibb lil-Mutāllimīn (Questions on Medicine for Students) remains a definitive text on Islamic medicine, and clearly contributed to the medicine practiced in earlier Sicily, it was rejected as ‘heretical’ by the time the well-known ‘Manfredus’ herbal was made for a Latin audience.

The rejection on ideological grounds is manifest in the treatment given Johannitius’ image in that herbal’s frontispiece. His name alone is not written, and so cannot be spoken. The incipit is, in his case, written inverted. His legs are shown crossed and bared to view – a sign of ‘wantonness’ and ‘heresy’ in the Latins’ visual vocabulary.

Evidently, the maker felt obliged to accept that fact that Islamic and Nestorian works had been foundational in Salerno, but could not forbear from this form of comment-as-censorship when copying works there in the fourteenth century.

This point with the status and most likely place of origin for ‘Manfredus’ were treated in ‘Heretics, orthodox and censored content in medieval imagery’, voynichimagery, (August 26., 2016) where the quoted passage was translated, recognised as an incipit and by that means and reference to the ‘Nestorian skullcap’, the figure identified as representing ‘Johannitius’.)

(detail) folio 1v from ‘Manfredus’ manuscript, BNF Lat.6823.

Returning to our present subject.

Day’s next paragraphs save the present writer from trying to write a summary of the history of Greek, Syriac and Muslim studies from the time of classical Greece to the thirteenth century AD. Though Gundeshapur is not on it, this map may help.

I’ve had to enlarge and to reduce it to make fit it here – apologies for the blurring.

As Day says,

Greek learning in Mesopotamia had its earliest center in the Syriac school of medicine in Edessa, which was closed by the Byzantine Emperor Zeno in 489. This school was then moved about a hundred miles east to Nisibis. By the sixth century the center had shifted from upper to lower Mesopotamia, where it flourished at Gundeshapur in the last days of the Sasanian dynasty.

F.E. Day, op.cit.

Ibn Butlan, author of the work known to the Latin west as the Tacuinum Sanitatis, is thought by some to have studied medicine in Gundeshapur; others think he had earlier been a Nestorian who studied in Nisibis.

Here were welcomed the Neoplatonists expelled from Athens in 529, and they gave a new impetus to Syriac study of Greek. In the eighth century the first Abbasids, Mansur, Harun ar-Rashid, and Ma’mun, brought members of this school to Baghdad, where, in the ninth century, Hunain continued their work.

Finally, in the twelfth century, several princes of the Turkoman Urtuqids revived the Greek, Syriac, and Arabic tradition in its original home, in various cities between the upper Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the Diyar Bakr district.

In the thirteenth century we know that at least one book, based on the Greek Hippiatrics, was copied in Arabic in Baghdad; other dated manuscripts, whose place of origin is not known, may well have been produced in the north.

ibid., loc.cit.

This is another consideration which led me to set that first moment of contact between Latins and the Voynich plant pictures in northern Mesopotamia, choosing northern Mesopotamia for historical reasons, and for practical reasons imagining it happening in Mosul {= Ninue on the map).

Though certainly not the only place it could have happened before 1350, the region about Mosul was a current centre of activity, as we’ve seen, and there is no doubt whatever that Nestorians and Genoese had been in contact shortly before.

The embassy from Arghun led by a Nestorian Uyghur (as is clear from the account of that embassy found and translated from the Syriac by Wallis Budge) wintered in Genoa. I’ve boxed Edessa, Nisibis and some other sites mentioned in this series including ‘Amida‘. Amida or Amid was once a major city and is often mentioned in the historical records, It has long been identified with Diyabakir though today Turks and others say that Diyabakir was Byzantine ‘Martyropolis’, some miles distant, and they use the name ‘Amida’ not at all.

Day’s only interest was in the medical-herbal traditions, of course because the Met’s leaf was from copy of Dioscorides.

The great difference then between the Voynich plant pictures and copies of Dioscorides in near-eastern, or indeed western manuscripts is that where the latter are concerned with plants’ medicinal value, the Voynich plant-pictures subject, in their groupings, range from locally-consumed products such as fruits and timbers to plants whose principal value was as fibre, dye, incense, paper, ingredients for scented fats or oils, and products such as pepper which were traded within the east, and via the Persian Gulf ultimately to as far as the south-western Mediterranean, their commercial value seeing the most prized exotics called, and taxed as, ‘spices’.

Among these were the three ‘myrobalans’ which form the group on folio 22r. (The analysis of which I published in Findings, a blogger blog which I had for a couple of years before shifting to wordpress).

Day’s discussion of the Mashhad Dioscorides and her comparison of its few drawings with those on a leaf acquired by the Met shed light on stylistic aspects of the Voynich drawings and indicate a region from which exemplars may have come to be copied, eventually, in the west. We may even suggest a date between the last quarter of the twelfth century and the middle of the fourteenth, the mid-fourteenth being, in my opinion, that of the second-to-last chronological layer evident in the Voynich drawings, to which – among others – the ‘castle detail belongs (c.1350 AD) and thus the substantial revision of the Voynich map, one which saw removal of what had been its governing ‘angel of the North’ to the North-west position, and consequent loss of one of its four ‘roses’. I speak of the Voynich ‘drawings’ because their over-painting with wash, and with lighter and with heavier pigments is a separate question and one which cannot be addressed without having a description of the full palette, a preferable a technical description.

On this point of dating, nonetheless, a note of caution is warranted. We know from the historical documents and comparative studies that the Mashhad Dioscorides was made in the last quarter of the twelfth century, but in the east as in the west, attitudes to the written, over the drawn ‘word’ meant that in some cases – as Day points out – you may find that when drawings are regarded as ‘mere illustrations’ the illustrator having no knowledge of plants may fill the space with generic forms or attempt to draw whatever the text may say of a plant.

Yet there are other cases, though less in the medieval west than in the east, where we do find drawings copied with remarkable fidelity because the antiquity of work inspires reverence.

detail in the Latin or Mediterranean style. This detail’s inclusion dated by the present author 1349-50 AD and identified as Pera considered part of Constantinople.

Excluding the few details in the Voynich manuscript that were plainly added after the manuscript entered Latin horizons (c.1290-1350) – such as that shown but before the copies were made that now form Beinecke MS 408 (i.e. c.1400-1438), the majority of Voynich drawings are copied with a fidelity extraordinary for any Latin copyists, but all the more because they surely looked then no less alien to western eyes as they do now. In fact, we do see the occasional instance where the copyist tried to ‘improve’ on the original but using a ruler where the originals never did (apparently another of the transmitters’ cultural tabus).

I do not mean to suggest that all Latins were hopeless copyists or that all makers of Arabic or of Persian texts copied perfectly. We know that the Majorcan cartographers were practiced at ‘near-facsimile’ copying of charts whose lines were, in a sense, meaningless too.

But the same occurs in the eastern sphere. Here, for example, we may compare an image from the Mashhad Dioscorides with another also made entirely by hand.

New York Public Library, Spencer Coll. Pers. ms. 39 fol. 20. Dated 1889-90 AD.

Neither is printed. The Masshad Dioscorides is dated to the last quarter of the twelfth century; the copy seen in the lower register is late nineteenth century. It was made just thirteen years before before Wilfrid Voynich bought his manuscript in Frascati, from a chest of manuscripts which all evidence suggests had lain undisturbed from the time Fr Beckx had returned from Fiesole c.1873, he having gone there when the Jesuits were expelled from Rome in 1860. There is no evidence for the manuscript’s having been in Frascati after Kircher’s death, nor for its having gone to the Vatican in 1860, nor for its having been stored in any other place and though some items from Jesuit libraries were, and Zandbergen imagines the Voynich manuscript was among them, it is no more than his guess; no evidence has so far been found to support that idea. Nor does that guess explain why Wilfrid Voynich presumed that Kircher had given it away to a noble Italian family.

The exactitude which distinguishes the copies in the Voynich manuscript is quite extraordinary for Latin copyists of the time. The tradition in the Latin west placed very much greater value on the written over the drawn line, to the point where to precisely copy any precedent was rare. On the contrary, the custom there was to ‘translate’ images of foreign origin or to re-deploy items from such works as interesting or curious ornament to the page, suiting the client’s preferences or – by the time of interest to us – the client’s latest fad and fashion.

We are fortunate that whoever oversaw the making of our manuscript apparently insisted on copies replicating the exemplar(s). The ‘improver’ who likes straight lines, and things to look more comfortably ‘Latin’ and who appears so briefly in the ‘bathy’ section wasn’t permitted to remain long, and the result of that unusual interest in exact copying means that these drawings overall retain to an extraordinary degree the succession of chronological ‘fingerprints’. We see their originally Hellenistic origins; distinguish them from affects due to preservation in a different cultural milieu; and see further the additions which occur after the matter entered the Latins’ horizons – or at least that of the Mediterranean environment.

(detail) from f.78v. The Latin “improver” at work. bodies of water become bodes in baths half Roman, half medieval vat.

It is, of course, understandable that modern eyes should be drawn immediately to the familiar visual language of that handful of later elements in the manuscript. What is a little more difficult to understand is why attention should have remain so fixed on them that the commentaries consider little else, and most theoretical narratives be based on those few – the castle, the emblem for September (the ‘archer’ figure), the cloud-band pattern and so on.

It has created an imbalance as great as surprising, in that writers who have expended ink and energy and sometimes vitriol on arguments for Latin-region nationality based on the ‘archer’ seem not to have greatly troubled with the diagrams entire, nor to appreciate that the emblem which they must explain is that used for October, and then provide a detailed study of the series as such. No less is required before offering confident assertions about those diagrams’ place and period of first enunciation, let alone their intended use.

To my knowledge only Koen Gheuens has ever offered a reasonable comparison for the ‘October’ emblem, and had it from one of the folding calendars whose type has unknown origins but occurs and appears to pass back and forth between England and Scandinavia through the medieval centuries. It is too long and complex a history to include here.

One more detail from Day’s paper on the Mashhad Dioscorides, to illuminate ways of ‘grouping’.

The example shown above, of two plants termed ‘lilies, does show a group formed of ‘complementary’ plants, though only two . It sets them side by side rather than forming both into a composite image as so many of the Voynich plant-pictures do. But not all. What I’ve called the ‘default form’ for the Voynich plant-pictures was just that; no law but a convenient custom to which exceptions might be made and were. On folio 43v, for example, we see a similar separation of two items – plants for which I offered the identifications Bupleurum rotundifolium and –Bupleurum falcatum in February 2015 though it was not the end result of formal analysis, just a proposal made after a quick skim through my first-level sources.

detail Yale, Beinecke MS 408 f.43v

Kew Gardens says of B. rotundifolium: “its native range is Central & E. Europe, Medit. to Central Asia. It is has environmental uses, as a medicine and for food”; for B. falcatum it has no listing. The world plant database gives B. falcata’s range as “Europ.; Oriens; As. bor.; Reg. Himal.” So that once again what we have is an ‘east-to-west’ range with B. rotundifolium best known and most used in the East. I’m sorry to say that the Voynich world’s casual attitude to acknowledging precedents and citing sources from which informatioin has been taken means that the reader today may possibly find the same identifications offered for that folio, or transferred to some other folio, though Bupleurum had never been previously mentioned so far as I could discover in 2015. It an habitual ‘plundering’ and misuse of original research and conclusions by certain Voynicheros which were one of the reasons that finally led to my closing off voynichimagery from the public in 2017.

Once again, we are less interested in the upper part of the Mashhad drawings, but the style in which the roots are shown – and more specifically those given the blue susan.

Both are considered forms or varieties of ‘lily’ with one being identified by Day with the blue iris (Iris germanica). The other is called ‘akoran’ and said to be a white lily, though I can find no information about the plant or its name, other than a possible mention of the ‘lily of the law’ in the introduction to Psalm 60. The N.Y.P.L. entry says “Iris (Iris germanica), iyyarsâ”.

Roots of that form indicate that the plant loves marshy ground and sometimes will include plants that modern botany defines as aquatic. Folio 39r shows the form indicating an aquatic habitat in the Voynich manuscript, but if we contrast the token roots or the blue ‘susan’ in the Mashhad Dioscorides with a counterpart from Beinecke MS 408 – as for example in folio 46r – the greater immediacy and vitality of the Voynich drawings becomes apparent.

(detail) fol. 46r Beinecke MS 408 cf. flowers and habitat-profile in f.folio 43r* which I’ve already identified as the Mangroves’ group.

Certainly, we are to read the constituents of this group as found in a marshy or swampy habitat, but if these roots are no simple ‘token’ forms as in copies of Dioscorides.

Here they are formed from first-hand knowledge of the referenced plants and of their uses. These stems/trunks grow upright; the leaves seem to wave like banners before a stiff breeze. The roots evoke the form of a long, slim, blade or oar – or more exactly a sort of half-blade oar.

One might even say the whole image seems to sail towards the right, like a three-masted galley, but to liken it to a three-master would be to go too far; these are three plants seen as ‘akin’ to one another but they are carefully distinguished. We are not seeing ‘three’ but three kinds of one. As ever, we are being informed of the plant’s practical applications as well as its form and the three variants’ shared natural habitat.

So this image is neither a single, composite figure for the group, nor a separated ‘group’ of the kind we see on folio 43v, and in the Mashhad Dioscorides’ paired lilies. We may call it a group in which each constituent of the group is shown detached, yet not separated.

Bye-way Folio 46r.

While I’m here, let’s have a better look at the drawing on folio 46r.

The form given the flowers is so very similar to those seen for the mangrove group on folio 43r* that I’d begin by investigating whether certain sorts of mangrove had notably large leaves. It is my practice to begin by attempting to dismiss first impressions by disproving them if possible. Saves a great deal of wasted time trying to hunt support for an idea which has no basis in fact.

So first, a cursory survey. Any type of mangrove with extra-large leaves? Ah – there is. [This website] says of Bruguiera gymnorhiza: “spelled Bruguiera gymnorrhiza until the turn of the millennium, belongs to the “true mangroves” and is very common in the Orient. The name gymnorhiza comes from two Greek words “gymno” naked and “rhiza” root, naked root which refers to the exposed knee roots of Bruguiera gymnorhiza emerging from the ground. Would that be the type seen in the drawing on the far right, perhaps? ‘Knee roots’.

Popularly known as the ‘Large-leafed.. mangrove’ the flowers of B gymnorhiza are orange-red, but flowers of a specific individual plant are not important as such in these drawings; the ‘mangrove type’ and its flower has already been defined, and in a way accurate for most mangroves, by the forms shown for them on folio 43r*. The same ‘type’ is used again to convey the important message, I should think, that these two are forms of mangrove.

First described by western taxonomists in 1798. . The same online source adds that neither Bruguiera gymnorhiza nor other species of the Bruguiera family occur in the Caribbean, though may be advertised commercially today as ‘Caribbean mangrove’ .

The habitat common to mangroves is appropriate in the drawing and was covered thoroughly in the analysis for folio 43r*.

Another website (here) lists among traditional uses for eastern mangroves ” textiles, mats, … boats and tapa cloth and also used as staple food.”

With any luck – because if we can’t just toss the idea out of court, it will involve a great deal of hard work – we may find that this sort of ‘half-blade’ oar is unknown to history or to archaeology or ethnographic studies.

Beginning from what’s to hand, which is Day’s article about the Mashhad Dioscorides, we see than in describing a certain mineral found in the Ganges river, the thirteenth-century painter attempted to distinguish two kinds of leaf-shaped oar, associating with the Arab or Indian and the other certainly with Buddhist or Oriental forms. Each of these figures holds two such oars, suggesting the rudder rather than the oars as such.

Perhaps the leaf-shape, though accentuated, is a token form and not meant literally. Were there ‘leaf’-shaped oars either for rowing or for steering? Since we’re still at the first, cursory, look-see stage trying to dismiss a first impression, this is evidence enough. A replica of the type of oars used in the Pacific, Indian and south-sea Islands. Leaf-shaped oars did exist there.

Remembering that plant-pictures aready analysed point to the Hellenistic period for first enunciation of the plant-pictures (if not necessarily the root-mnemonics), we must refer at least to the oars and rudder-oars of Greek ships before digging deeper to see what is known of Hellenistic ships used in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf.

And what do you know – can’t ditch the idea on that excuse.

The second example is more ambiguous; the first has no caption – both are courtesy of G/gle images.

A website in Greek (here) contains a diagram that doesn’t show the half-leaf form. Most images of Greek ships appear not to – but it does give us the word for rudder (sing.) as πηδάλιον [pedalion], derived from from pédon (the blade of an oar).

How about Roman types – nothing like. Check Han Chinese – no…

And now the real work begins. Archaeological studies of ship-wrecks, if anything has survived since Hellenistic times as wrecks (unlikely); carvings, vase-paintings and so on. Literary works which might use a telling metaphor. Studies of historically-attested use for Bruguiera gymnorhiza. Were any species noted as used particularly for rudders? Why? Then botanical texts and references to discover any other ‘large-leaf’ species found in the same habitat, and preferably the same geographic region .. and so on and so on.

The nature of “the work”.

Iconographic analysis isn’t the doddle many imagine. Nor is the work aimed at any easy appeal to mates and their voting on the basis of a subjectively assessed ‘plausibility’. You’re not trying to get your evidence voted in, but preparing a case you expect to be cross-examined by peers likely to be better qualified than you, so you work on the case as if you to present it in court. ‘ It’s a good idea, I find, to avoid over-attachment to your own ideas, to take the position that you’re accusing the image of being thus-and-so and the basic principle in operation is ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt before a jury of your peers‘. And that means peers in your profession.

In Voynich studies, you will encounter both reasonable and unreasonable doubt, but that’s just how it is; a majority of Voynicheros ever since 1912 have liked theories and for preference theories appealing to the comfortably familiar.

A German speaker tends to like ‘German Voynich’ theories; a Francophile ‘French’ theories and the Anglophile Wilfrid Voynich gravitated towards an English author theory. Brumbaugh, an American, liked O’Neill’s awful ‘sunflower’ theory and its consequent ‘new world’ flavour. Rudolf-fans insist on on ‘nobility and high culture’ theories. What theory the Voynich manuscript would vote for, it would be very, very nice to know.

Moving into the fourteenth-to-fifteenth century, one has to ask who would want a collection of largely non-medicinal plants because – in my opinion, and as I’ve said – the Voynich plants range from ones yielding locally-consumed items such as fruits and timbers to plants whose principal value was as fibre, dye, incense, paper, to ingredients for scented fats or oils, and products such as pepper which were traded very early and widely into the Mediterranean.

The list of ‘exotics’ in Theophrastus’ works as in Dioscorides’ are well known, as are those traded from the far east to as far as England and France by no later than the 9thC AD.

‘Treasure-houses’ – Stores, warehouses and agents.

The most obvious, remembering that our present manuscript is largely but not only composed of these plant-pictures, would be an organisation (family- or commercial) involved in international trade; one thinks of the traders’ ports and the type of depot known within the Mediterranean world variously as funduk/fondak , as thesaurus or as apotheca.

There were also agents who bought ‘in the field’ on behalf of larger trading bodies or very wealthy individuals, or simply as the member of a family deputed to live in a certain region and send back goods as wanted to the home-town.

Cairo and Alexandria must be given some prominence because whatever Georg Baresch had been told about manuscript, he knew the plants were exotics and admitted that he only ‘guessed’ their uses medicinal, though it’s clear he hoped and believed they would be. He also believed the matter ‘ancient’ in some sense, and Egyptian. Alexandria would not seem unreasonable as a Hellenistic foundation which remained a major entrepot from the time of Alexander to the fifteenth century.

On this point, I note two items in Baresch’s account which may be a result of his being more familiar with classical than with medieval Latin idioms.

It seems clear enough that some information about the manuscript had come to him along with it and from another source, but he expresses rather the sense in which he had understood that information, and his Latin – still the common language of the highly educated in those days – is clearly gained from classical Roman works not from medieval usage.

This means that his usages aren’t always clear to us.

For example, he speaks of what is in the manuscript as “thesauros Artis medicae Aegyptiacos” but the sense of ‘thesauros’ alters depending on the era and whether the word had been first associated with the matter now in the manuscript. If it had come down from a person who had been thinking of the medieval Greek or the medieval Latin sense, Baresch’s later receiving it when he knew only classical Latin would affect his own understanding.

Baresch’s letter to Kircher being written in Latin, Neal naturally translates the phrase in its classical Latin sense, “treasures of Egyptian medicine”, which may be exactly how Baresch himself understood the matter. On the other hand, if the information had come down from a medieval-fifteenth century source, or from a Greek informant, then the sense might be not so much the treasury for gold and gems meant by classical Latin, but a storehouse in general and so equivalent to the medieval Greek’s ‘warehouse/depot’ which also changed its sense over time to mean, more specifically, the pharmacists’ stores.

And if we consider Oliver Kahn’s studies of the Islamic ‘sadalani’ and how late medieval and Renaissance pharmacies might operate – more like an American drug-store in the 1950s, as social centres, and we know that illustrated ‘catalogues’ might be set on display for customers to persuse and managers to refer to – then one can imagine how some depot or store-house might have found these pictures useful, even if not ‘a herbal’.

Again, the issue affects what Baresch understood, and how he meant the phrase ‘Oriental parts.


Quin imo est valde probabile, ali quem virum bonum, verae Medicinae amantem … Regiones
orientis adijsse, ibique thesauros Artis medicae Aegyptiacos.

Transcription and translation thanks to the generosity of Philip Neal.

In fact it is easily conceivable that some man of quality went to oriental parts in quest of true medicine…. He would have acquired the treasures of Egyptian medicine..

emphasis is added by the present author

The phase may have been meant, originally, to be more specific – if not meant by Baresch then by his source. Though in the fifteenth century ‘oriental parts’ could be employed to describe somewhere no further from Europe than north Africa, and was even used to describe Europeans resident in their town for centuries, should they be Jews, In classical Latin, ‘Oriens’ might carry quite specific meaning. What Baresch was thinking, though, I can’t say.

For general readers I refer again to the map at the top of this post, and would add that ‘Egyptian’ and ‘Mesopotamian’ are not mutually exclusive in terms of the transmission of knowledge in the near east.

For example, when the Arab armies reached Harran, the Harranians’ holy books, to which they went on annual pilgrimage, were in Egypt. By the kindness of a Muslim general, those books were brought to them. When he had earlier required them to name their holy books the Harranians listed Greek works, all of which survived and safely reached the far western Mediterranean to become part of the western canon, including the geometry of Pythagoras and the Phaenomena.

On which see Tamara M. Green, The City of the Moon God: Religious Traditions of Harran (Brill Series: Religions in the Graeco-Roman World)

And the Nestorians, as I’ve said elsewhere, practiced ministry to the mind by education; to the soul by religious ministry and to the body by practicing medicine – all in emulation of Christ’s actions and words according to the Christian Gospels.

PS – the gremlin in the Beinecke has managed to remove the side menu from the digitised MS again. Not even a slide – for an important library in the twenty-first century it isn’t quite the right look.

2 thoughts on “Tabula Picta 5v* – (conc.) Stylistic echoes Pt 2

  1. Newcomers should know that what is being summarised in these posts is, for the most part, matter laid out, with the informing evidence, notes and bibliography in articles published online between 2009-2017, during which time as the research progressed I shared it without cost to readers or profit sought by the writer.

    In 2017, I finally tired of the seeing the work plagiarised and mangled by a handful of Voynicheros who, being both ambitious and untutored in ‘fair use’ would neither cite the original accurately, nor admit that what they’d taken was never the fruit of their own work.

    Newcomers should also know that I have a policy about comments.

    If a person has made two informed comments on the post’s content – whether debating a point or not – then I’ll probably publish their comments from then on.

    If their first comments are ad.hominems – especially mindless repetition of a very, very old mantra along the lines “You don’t admire me/my theory/my friend/my friend’s theory so you’re a bad person” then I’ll consider the comment ad hominem, treat is as a pers. comm. and hope they’re lucky the third time.

    Feel free to offer informed dissent. As some – I hope many – will know, informed debate is meat and drink to a serious researcher.

    I’m off for about three weeks, though so don’t fret if an interesting and informed comment from you fails to appear for a while.


  2. I began adding various research notes on Bupleurum spp. and Cerastes spp. but once the notes added to about 1.000 words, i realised it would have to be put together properly, in a separate post.


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