Prosperi Alpini Marosticensis, Philosophi, Medici
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Prosper Alpini (1553-1617) was a physician and botanist. He was the personal doctor of a Venetian ambassador, whom he accompanied to Africa. Living in Cairo in 1580, Alpini spent the following three years traveling through Egypt studying the country and searching for trees that produced medical balsam. Upon his return to Padua, Italy, he held a position as professor at the city’s university and started his famous botanical garden. Johann Vesling (1598-1649) was a German a savant and traveler. Like Alpini, he was a professor at the university at Padua, where he taught anatomy and botany. The main focus of his studies was the flora of Egypt, Crete, and the Holy Land. Vesling was the successor of Prosper Alpini as director of the botanical garden in Padua. Both traveled through Egypt, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The country was practically unknown. In the first part of the book, Alpini, based on his observations, described the monuments, inhabitants, flora and fauna as well as natural resources of Egypt. The second section of the book contains a large amount of Velsing’s observations that complements Alpini’s earlier observations.
Title page of Prosperi Alpini, Marosticensis, Philosophi, Medici.