Advertisement

The Islamic Near East

  • John M. Steele
Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 4)

Abstract

At the same time as the so-called European Dark Ages, which, in terms of science, were not as dark as had once been supposed, 1 science and learning were occupying an important place in the society of the neighbouring Islamic Near East. Astronomy, of course, was a major aspect of this science. According to King (1996: 146), “it was not Islam that encouraged the development of astronomy but the richness of Islamic society, a multiracial, highly-literate, tolerant society with one predominant language, Arabic.” Islamic astronomy was founded on a mixture of traditional “folk” astronomy and Indian, Persian, and Greek mathematical astronomy, but by the turn of the second millennium it had evolved into a science characteristically its own.2

Keywords

Local Time Solar Eclipse Lunar Eclipse Eclipse Observation True Accuracy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    See, for example, McCluskey (1998) and Chapter 5 below.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    King (1996: 144).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    King (1996: 143) estimates that there are over 10,000 in libraries throughout the world.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    lncluding more than one hundred solar and lunar eclipses. See Said, Stephenson, & Rada (1989) and Stephenson & Said (1997).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    King (1996).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sayili (1960: 50–87).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    King (1996).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    For details of the use and operation of these calendar systems, see Said & Stephenson (1996).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For example, the late fourteenth century Damascene astronomer Ibn al-Shātir is known to have written a book entitled Ta `liq al-Arsād which contained details of how he derived an alternative planetary model to that of Ptolemy from his observations. It seems that a number of eclipse observations were contained in this work. However, all manuscript copies of it have been lost. See Saliba (1987).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Neugebauer (1975: 667).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See, for example, al-Birūnī, Kitāb Tahdid Nihāāyāt al-Amākin li-Tas hīh Masāfāt al-Masākin, 166–168; trans. Ali (1967: 129–130).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    A1-Hassan & Hill (1986: 55–59).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Saliba (1986).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    For a detailed explanation of the construction and use of an astrolabe, see North (1974). Of the many treatises on the astrolabe by Islamic astronomers the most detailed is by al-Sūfi. See Kennedy & Destombes (1966) for a commentary on this text. For a preliminary survey of known astrolabes and their makers, see Mayer (1956). He concludes that most astrolabes were built by the astronomer who intended to use it.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Goldstein (1963); King (1973).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kitāb Tahdid Nihāyāt al-Amākin li-Tashīh Masāfāt al-Masākin, 168; trans. Ali (1967: 130–131).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kennedy (1956: 127).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    For further biographical details, see Tekeli (1972).Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    For further biographical details, see Dold-Samplonius (1974).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    For further biographical details, see Hartner (1970).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ta’rikh al-Hukamā’; trans. Hartner (1970: 507–508).Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kennedy (1956: 132–133).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sayili (1960: 101–103).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kennedy (1956). 25 Said & Stephenson (1997).Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    It has often been claimed that al-Hākim built an observatory for Ibn Ytinus in Cairo, but Sayili (1960: 130–156) has shown this to be untrue. Instead he argues that Ibn Yūnus may have built his own private observatory in his house.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    King (1973).Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    King (1976). 29 Kennedy (1956: 126).Google Scholar
  28. 30.
    For further biographical details, see King (1976).Google Scholar
  29. 31.
    For a list of al-Birūni’s works, including details of those that are extant, and those that have been published, see Kennedy (1970).Google Scholar
  30. 32.
    This work is described by Kennedy (1956: 157–159).Google Scholar
  31. 33.
    This work has been translated into English by Ali (1967).Google Scholar
  32. 34.
    For further biographical details, see Kennedy (1970). 35 A1-Birūni also reports an observation of an annular solar eclipse by al-Irānshahrī on 28 July 873 AD. Although no timings of this eclipse are reported, it is of considerable historical interest as according to Ptolemy’s eclipse theory (Almagest, V, 14), annular eclipse are not possible. See Goldstein (1979).Google Scholar
  33. 36.
    Said & Stephenson (1997).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Steele
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DurhamUK

Personalised recommendations