La classification des animaux sauvages chez un naturaliste et médecin du Xe siècle Aḥmad Ibn Abī al-Ašʿaṯ


fr Anthropozoologica 55 (11) - Pages 159-172

Published on 31 July 2020

This article is a part of the thematic issue Appréhender les catégories zoologiques dans les sociétés du passé

Wild animals categorization by the tenth century naturalist doctor Aḥmad Ibn abī al-Ašʿaṯ

We consider the classification of animals of a scholar of the 10th century, Aḥmad Ibn Abī al-Ašʿaṯ, a recognized practitioner and theoretician in the field of medicine. This author had a wide knowledge of the works of his Greek predecessors, including Galen. His original approach addresses the field of wild animal taxonomy (in his book Kitāb al-Ḥayawān) by their constitution and composition by the four elements. While taking into account other factors, mainly the living environment, this classification differs from that of Aristotle or the Arab scholar al-Ğahiz (9th). In this paper, we delve deeper into the analysis of a chapter of his work, on the classification of wild animals, which is particularly remarkable for its theoretical and systematic aspect. Ibn Abī al-Ašʿaṯ proposes general laws that allow the reader to place any animal, known or unknown to the author, in a corresponding category. Sixteen categories are thus defined and illustrated by examples of real animals. In this article, we examine the relationships between medical Art and the establishment of these categories.


Medieval Arabic zoology, classification, four elements, Ibn Abī al-Ašʿaṯ, wild animals.

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