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About the ‘Medieval Plant Survey (MPS)’

The knowledge of herbs and healing was handed down from Antiquity to the Middle Ages which accounts for the little change within the materia medica of that time. But changes do occur, for example, in the evaluation and use of plants. Some plant’s habitat is limited to the Far East area and therefore it hardly gains ground in Western Europe; others are simply substituted with similar, native plants. The image of some plant undergoes a positive reevaluation in the course of their tradition; others, though, are assessed in a totally negative way. As people of the 21st century we only have limited access to this knowledge: on the one hand, we can rely on the continuously written tradition of scientific texts, which once were limited to a small social class of users – the literati, i.e. those who could read (and write) Latin. On the other hand, we have written poetic sources in the vernacular, which were – due to their primarily oral tradition – accessed by a broader audience. Both are accompanied by illustrations and sculptures depicting plants, all of which stem from a monastic, religious background. Additionally, the understanding of all of this material is complicated by regional and temporal deviations.

With the Medieval Plant Survey we plan to unite these threads of tradition within one data-pool, to serve as research base for interestad and dedicated, international scholars of different scientific fields. At the same time the portal is designed to provide an technically up to date workspace, which relys on the amenities of, e.g. ‘social media techniques’. Finally, our goal is to provide monographs for all medieval plants. If you have further questions regarding this project, please contact us via the following e-mail address: