Current Projects

Medieval Arabic Mineralogy

The Arabo-Islamic milieu received mineralogical lore from many different streams of tradition: Greek, Indian, Persian, Syriac. It also gave an innovative contribution to this field with many innovative compilations and new texts. Though many of them are presented as translation, we are actually dealing with either pseudo-translations or complete re-writings of works in other languages.

Galen, Kitāb min quwwat al-adwiya al-mufrada, Book 9, On Mineral Drugs

Together with my friend and colleague Dr. Matteo Martelli, we are currently preparing a Greaco-Arabic edition of the nineth book on stones, minerals, and metals from the De Simplicium Medicamentorum by Galen. The complete recensio of the manuscript witnesses and the close comparison between the two traditions of the text open new perspectives on the role that Arabic has in the constitutio of the Greek text, alongside with its indipendent tradition and the scholarly practices related to the transmission of this Galenic work, in particular in al-Andalus.

Pseudo-Aristotle On Stones

What Aristotle had promised —but never fulfilled— in the Greek Meteorologica, was written in the 9th-10th century in the Arabo-Islamic milieu. That is  a list of particular stones whose medicinal and alchemical properties are described.

The Book of the Seven Coloured Pearls

From the Pahlawi tradition, the Arabo-Islamic world received the inspiration for this text. Here seven pearls, each one of a different colour, The idea seems to come from a Middle-Persian environment, but it was given a new and more systematic structure in its passage into Arabic.

The Book of Planetary Seals by ʿUṭārid ibn Muḥammad

Indian materials have probably been the inspiration for this text that describes the seven stones associated to the planets, their appropriate engravings, and the ritual prescriptions connected with their use. The illustrations constitute a very interesting ichonographic corpus to study the transmission of images next to the one of texts.

Arabic Technical Alchemy

The recent studies on Western alchemy have been rediscovering its technical origins. Later, the spiritual connotation and the model of Paracelsus overshadow its core, made of dyeing processes, manipulation of metals, and production of fake precious stones. This scholarly trends suggests new directions also for the study of Eastern alchemy, in particular of the rich corpus of Arabic texts. I have started a survey—that includes a first collation and translation—of different alchemical texts that may serve as sources for a new history of alchemy.


MS Carullah 1086 (Suleymaniye Library) is a multiple-text manuscript from Maghrib collecting a number of short alchemical treatises. Among them, ‘On First Principles, Classes, Natures, and Colours’ (57v-66r). Another copy of this text (BL Or 13006, 7v-14r) can be found among the British Library manuscripts digitized with the support of the Qatar Foundation.

Risāla of Maria the Copt

The mythical figure of the Late Antique alchemist Maria the Jewess (‘the Copt’ in the Arabic text), a dialogue on the generations of metals, in which the metaphore of the genitrix is largof this eclectic collection of materials, ‘On the principles of the alchemical art, and the preparation of