Professor Scarborough has several research interests: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine pharmacology, with a primary focus on identification of specific substances used as pharmaceuticals (plants, animal products, minerals) by Dioscorides, Galen, Aetius of Amida, Alexander of Tralles, and other ancient and Byzantine texts of medicine and druglore; the Greek and Coptic texts known as the Papyri Graecae Magicae, wherein specifics suggest an ongoing folk medicine, and he has published some translations within the larger collection of spells and incantations in the Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, 2nd ed. (Univ. Chicago Press, 1992); similar tendencies and aspects in ancient texts have yielded studies which consider religious/magical medicine and pharmacy, folk medicine in classical civilization, and Hermeticism, published respectively in Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic and Religion (Oxford Univ. Press, 1991), in Folklore and Folkmedicines (AIHP, 1987), and in Hermeticism and the Renaissance (Folger Library, 1988); a third area of research is ancient medical entomology, with emphasis on how insects were used in pharmacy and folklore, and how theoretical toxicology influenced Greco-Roman perceptions of aphrodisiacs, poisons, and analgesics, suggested by a paper delivered in October 1995 at the meeting of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States, titled "Greco-Roman Medical Entomology and Sexual Lore: Blister Beetles," an aspect of his scholarship that had produced articles on Greco-Roman poison-lore and entomology including "Some Beetles in Pliny's Natural History" (1977), "Nicander's Toxicology, I: Snakes" (1977), "Nicander's Toxicology, I: Spiders, Scorpions, Insects, and Myriapods" (1979), "On the History of Early Entomology" (1979) and (on anesthetics) "The Opium Poppy in Hellenistic and Roman Medicine" in Drugs and Narcotics in History (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995); a fourth aspect of his research is on Roman and Byzantine surgery (especially major abdominal) and surgical techniques, suggested by his "Galen and the Gladiators" (1971) and "Roman and Byzantine Surgery for Hernia Repair" due to appear in R. Arnott and L. Dean-Jones, eds., Anatomy in Antiquity; currently Scarborough is translating (with commentaries) recipes and formulas that incorporate birthwort (Aristolochia spp.)from the Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Arabic, as a member of an NIH research team (PI: Arthur Grollman, MD, Pharmacology, School of Medicine, SUNY Stony Brook), investigating the toxic effects from the plant experienced in ancient and modern times, with laboratory analyses based upon these ancient and medieval recipes. He has taught the large freshman-level course on medical terminologies at Wisconsin for the Department of Classics since 1987, and his own book (Medical and Biological Terminologies: Classical Origins, 2nd ed., Univ. Oklahoma Press, 1998) has become a widely-used text in this subject. Reviews of the first edition (1992) were warmly complimentary, appearing in such journals as Classical World, Journal of the American Medical Association, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Journal of Religious Studies, and several more. Current research continues on Greek, Roman, and Byzantine surgery, toxicology, and anesthetic plants used as pain-killers in ancient times, and his Pharmacy and Drug Lore in Antiquity: Greece, Rome, Byzantium (Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2010) collects fourteen of his essays from 1977 through 2002, gaining rather laudatory reviews in Social History of Medicine, Aestimatio, Journal of the History of Chemistry, and other scholarly periodicals.
Background: Professor Scarborough gained a BA degree from Baker University (1961) with double majors in zoology and history and double minors in German and chemistry. After a year at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, he took an MA degree in Byzantine studies at the University of Denver (1963); continuing his graduate work in classical languages at the University of Pennsylvania, and after a teaching stint at West Virginia Wesleyan College (Buckhannon), he obtained the PhD degree at the University of Illinois (1967) in Greek and Roman history combined with the history of medicine. From 1966 to 1985, he was on the faculty of the University of Kentucky, becoming Professor in 1976, and in 1981 he became Professor (joint appointment) of Pharmacy while holding a professorship in ancient history and the history of medicine. Among a number of awards and honors are fellowships from the Carnegie Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fondation Hardt (Geneva, Switzerland), the Taniguchi Foundation (Osaka, Japan), and Wolfson College, Oxford (England). At the University of Kentucky, Scarborough was named a Distinguished Researcher (1970), Great Teacher (1971), Hallam Professor of History (1977), Distinguished Lecturer in the College of Pharmacy (1984), and Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences (1985). In July 1985, he joined the faculty of the School of Pharmacy at Wisconsin and assumed the directorship of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy (AIHP), based in the U.W.-School of Pharmacy, a position held until 1987. His research centers on medicine and pharmacy in Greco-Roman antiquity, as well as Byzantine, classical Islamic, and early Renaissance medicine, pharmacy, and corollary matters in medical botany, zoology, astrology, and alchemy. In 1982 he received the Edward Kremers Award for distinguished pharmaco-historical writing from the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy. Elected as member of the International Academy of the History of Medicine (1985) as well as the International Academy of the History of Pharmacy (1991), his alma mater (Baker University) honored him with a D.H.L. (Doctorate of Humane Letters)in 1993; and that same year he was elected a delegate (Classics/History of Medicine) by the People-to-People program and travelled to Russia and the Ukraine and participated in conferences and institutional visits, as he also did in Turkey later in the same year. Frequently invited to lecture in his fields of expertise, he has delivered lectures and held seminars in ancient medical studies at a number of universities and medical schools in the United States and Canada, as well as several countries in Europe, Japan and South Africa. He was appointed Fellow of the Institute for Research in the Humanities (1990). In 1987 he accepted a professorship in the U.W. Department of Classics, while maintaining his primary duties in the School of Pharmacy, and in 2005 was appointed Honorary Research Fellow in Classics/Ancient Studies at the Universiteit van de Vrijstaat, Bloemfontein, South Africa. In 2005, 2007, and 2008, Professor Scarborough was honored by invitations to lecture at sveral universities in South Africa, including the University of Cape Town, Kwa-Zulu University (Durban and Pietermaritzburg), University of South Africa (UNISA Pretoria/Johannesburg), University of the Free State (Bloemfontein) and North-West University in Potschefstroom, and in 2008, was appointed co-director of a PhD student, whose dissertation took up ancient narcotics compared with native South African folk medicines. In 2006, he was appointed a special delegate to the International Symposium on Nephrotoxic substances (esp. birthwort [Aristolochia spp.]), held at the medical school, University of Zagreb, Croatia, and he also was invited to lecture (Dioscorides, the practice of medicine in antiquity, kidney diseases in Roman antiquity) to groups of medical professionals in Zagreb.
Professional Interests: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Medicine and Pharmacology; Roman and Byzantine Surgery; Birthwort in Folklore and Folk Medicine; Natural Anesthetics and the Management of Pain before the Renaissance