The story of Dr. Ibrahim Obeidallah, in 1073 AD Jerusalem, one of the most important pioneers in the field of zombie physiology, typifies the great strides forward and the tragic steps back in science’s attempt to understand the undead. An unknown source caused an outbreak of fifteen zombies in Jaffa, a city on the coast of Palestine. Local militia, using a translated copy of Roman Army Order XXXVII, successfully exterminated the threat with a minimum of human casualties. One newly bitten woman was taken under the care of Obeidallah, a prominent physician and biologist. Although Army Order XXXVII called for the immediate decapitation and burning of all bitten humans, Obeidallah convinced (or perhaps bribed) the militia to allow him to study the dying woman. A compromise was reached in which he was permitted to move the body, and all of his equipment, to the city jail. There, in a cell, under the law’s watchful eye, he observed the restrained victim until she expired, and continued to study the corpse while it reanimated. He performed numerous experiments on the restrained ghoul. Discovering that all bodily functions necessary to sustain life were no longer functioning, Obeidallah scientifically proved that his subject was physically dead, yet functioning. He traveled throughout the Middle East, gathering information on other possible outbreaks.
Obeidallah’s research documented the entire physiology of the living dead. His notes included reports on the nervous system, digestion, even the rate of decomposition in relation to the environment. This work also included a complete study on the behavioral patterns of the living dead, a remarkable achievement if actually true. Ironically, when Christian knights stormed Jerusalem in 1099, this amazing man was beheaded as a worshiper of Satan, and almost all of his work was destroyed. Sections of it survived in Baghdad for the next several hundred years, with only a fraction of the original text rumored to survive. Obeidallah’s life story, however, minus the details of his experiments, survived the crusaders’ slaughter, along with his biographer (a Jewish historian and former colleague). The man escaped to Persia, where the work was copied, published, and gained modest success in various Middle Eastern courts. A copy remains in the National Archives in Tel Aviv.