Section V. Aboca and the Materia Medica Between Past and Future
Two showcases displayed a selection of books and objects from the collection of the Aboca Museum (the museum of Aboca, a pharmacological firm in Sansepolcro), and from its Bibliotheca Antiqua, showing the thousand-year history of the relationship between man and medicinal plants. Hieronymus Bock’s Kräuterbuch represents the first comprehensive description of central European materia medica – plants and their therapeutic properties. This is followed by some of the most important Renaissance editions of Dioscorides’ De materia medica: the works of Jean Ruel, author of the first Latin translation of Dioscorides, and of the Portuguese interpreter Amato Lusitano, as well as the Commentarii (Commentaries) on Discorides by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, a work of enjoyed extraordinary success right across Europe. It had been reprinted more than 200 times by the mid-seventeenth century and included high-quality illustrations. Finally, the work of the entomologist and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian, dating back to the early eighteenth century, showed a rare combination of artistic talent and passionate study of nature, the former serving the latter. Books such as these are now Aboca’s starting point for verifying how certain pathologies were treated in the past and with which plants. The results of historical research are then scrutinised in the light of modern science to develop products that synthesise the knowledge of past and present. The objects come from the museum collection of the Aboca Museum’s Room of Glass Jars and Weighing Scales: on display wew everyday tools of an apothecary and a small box containing the most commonly used homoeopathic remedies of the nineteenth century, with the original granules still visible inside the vials.