A pharmacopoeia is a directory of medicines, describing their preparation and uses. The old pharmacopoeias such as Dioscorides' De Materia Medica dealt largely with herbal preparations.

Other early works of this nature include the Edwin Smith Papyrus, Pliny's Pharmacopoeia, The Canon of Medicine of Avicenna, and works by Persian physicians Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) and Ibn Baytar.

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