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L’inventario della spezieria di Giovanni Zavanti al Cairo (1732) : Una rara testimonianza dell’arte farmaceutica europea ai confini tra Oriente e Occidente

The inventory of the apothecary Giovanni Zavanti, a Venetian pharmacist who worked in Cairo in the 1730s, was drawn up by the Egyptian city’s British Consulate in 1732. Since this institution ensured formal juridical protection to the English shopkeepers of the Levant Company, but devoted little attention to their need for health care, this historical source can be considered a rare testimony of European medical-pharmaceutical activity in the Levant. The inventory’s importance is also connected with the specific political and socio-cultural context of Egypt, the most economically important province of the Ottoman Empire. Substantial groups of English, French and Dutch merchants lived in the Muslim society of Cairo and were officially represented by their respective nations in the eighteenth century. The Venetian, also active in Cairo, could not count on the protection of their State institutions during the Turco-Venetian conflicts (1645–1718). In this complex context, Zavanti tried to take advantage of his professional activity and built up different socio-cultural relations to defend his properties and commercial interests. He was in contact with fellow countrymen, Arabic Christians of Egypt, Jews, Turkish officials and the Franciscan confraternity Custodia Terrae Santae. As second-generation immigrants from Venice, the Zavantis experienced a difficult process of cultural integration in Egypt.



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