Dr Petros Bouras-Vallianatos
Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in Medical Humanities
Department of History
King's College London
C8b East Wing
London WC2R 2LS
Research Interests and PhD supervision
Dr Bouras-Vallianatos joined the department in March 2016 as a Wellcome Research Fellow in Medical Humanities. He obtained his MPharm in Pharmacy from the University of Athens and his BA in Ancient History from King’s College London. He then read Late Antique & Byzantine History and Literature at the University of Oxford (MSt) and took his doctorate in the History of Medicine at King’s College London in 2015 with a thesis on Late Byzantine medical theory and practice, currently being revised for publication as a monograph. His doctoral thesis was awarded the Elsevier Outstanding PhD Thesis Prize. Dr Bouras-Vallianatos spent time as a Junior Research Fellow at John Kluge Research Center of the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. (2012-2013) and taught medical history as a Visiting Lecturer in History at Royal Holloway, University of London (2013-2014).
- History of Medicine and Pharmacology in Late Antiquity and Byzantium
- Byzantine Intellectual History
- History of Epilepsy
- Reception of Greek Medicine
- Greek Paleography
Dr Bouras-Vallianatos’s research goal is to promote the study of the largely unexplored and virgin territories of Byzantine medicine. In his doctoral thesis, he examined John Zacharias Aktouarios’s (ca. 1275-ca.1330) innovative contributions to the fields of physiology, diagnosis, dietetics, and pharmacology. His thesis overturned the view that Byzantine medical tradition was ‘stagnant’, simply preserving the best ideas from antiquity, and showed that Byzantine medical authors were far more open to outside influence than has hitherto been argued and eager to inform their material with observations derived from their daily contact with patients.
His current Wellcome Trust funded project, ‘Experiment and Exchange: Byzantine Pharmacology between East and West (ca. 1150-ca.1450)’, aims to place in cultural and therapeutic context for the first time a large number of published and unpublished Byzantine pharmacological texts. It will determine the various connections between these treatises and evaluate the degree of influence on Byzantine pharmacology from Arabic, Persian, and Latin pharmacological traditions. It will also examine the activity of pharmacy-related professions and their role in the preparation, administration, and selling of drugs in Byzantium and will provide an important and fresh set of data for comparative historical studies across the Medieval Mediterranean and Near East.
Bouras-Vallianatos also enjoys devoting time to the reception of Greek and Roman medicine and has recently been contracted to co-edit the Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Galen, which will constitute the first textbook on the topic. Furthermore, he recently brought to completion a Wellcome Library funded project for the preparation of the first descriptive catalogue of Greek manuscripts at the library.
Dr Bouras-Vallianatos would be happy to advise PhD students in:
- History of Medicine and Pharmacology
- Intellectual History
- Reception of the Classical Tradition
- Late Antique and Byzantine History
Dr Bouras-Vallianatos lectures on medieval medical and intellectual history.
Expertise and public engagement
- Miraculous Fish Therapy for Leprosy (‘Elephant Disease’) and other Skin Diseases in Byzantium, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 40 (2016): 170-175.
- Case Histories in Late Byzantium: Reading the Patient in John Zacharias Aktouarios’ On Urines, in Homo Patiens: Approaches to the Patient in the Ancient World, eds. G. Petridou and C. Thumiger. Leiden: Brill (2016): 390-409.
- Galen’s Reception in Byzantium: Symeon Seth and his Refutation of Galenic Theories on Human Physiology, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 55 (2015): 431-469.
- Greek Manuscripts at the Wellcome Library in London: A Descriptive Catalogue, Medical History 59 (2015): 275-326.
- Contextualizing the Art of Healing by Byzantine Physicians, in‘Life is Short Art Long’: The Art of Healing in Byzantium, ed. B. Pitarakis. Istanbul: Pera Museum Publication (2015) 104-122.
- Clinical Experience in Late Antiquity: Alexander of Tralles and the Therapy of Epilepsy, Medical History 58 (2014): 337-353.
For a complete list of publications, please see his full research profile here.
I have written on history of medicine and pharmacology for popular audiences in English, Greek, and Italian. I am also a regular contributor to the Wellcome Library’s blog (see my most recent post here).