Owies w greckich traktatach medycznych starożytności i bizancjum (V w. prz. Chr. - XI w. po Chr.)
The common oat in Greek medical treatises of antiquity and Byzantium (Vth c. BC - XIth c. AD)
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The common oat (Avena sativa) is a kind of cereal which is fairly well attested in the ancient and Byzantine Greek sources. It is to be noted that medical literature of the abovementioned periods is especially informative as far as the subject in question is concerned. The body of evidence shows that both in Antiquity as well as over the Byzantine period (i.e. between the Vth and the XIth centuries) oats belonged to the crops which did not enjoy much appreciation nor special attention on the part of both mass consumers as well as medical specialists. Generally the cereal was thought to be worse than other crops and therefore lending itself to being animal fodder. It was made use of almost exclusively as an emergency food in case of shortages of other cereals. Though there are very few recipes that refer directly to the ways of preparing oats as food, some guidelines can be formulated on the basis of information pertaining to other cereals. The analyzed sources appear to suggest that it was used to prepare thin soups (on the basis of oats cooking liquor). Moreover, the cereal was also cooked into gruel-like soups. Having been finely ground, it could also be utilized to prepare bread, which, however, was not highly appreciated for its taste nor dietetic value. Medical sources characterize oats in reasonable detail. The cereal is said to be not very appealing in its flavour (which reveals unbalanced humours), characteristic of limited wholesomeness, slightly astringent (and therefore slowing down the work of the alimentary tract), hard to digest, delicately desiccating, heating and cooling at the same time. The same material suggests that oats were used for therapeutic purposes. Mainly they were profited from to treat diarrhea, stomach problems, liver ailments, prepare cataplasms to stimulate diaphoresis, help remove mucus from the bronchi and feed the feverish.
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