Symposium 1

Above and below the Moon: Islamicate science across the Mediterranean

Miquel Forcada | University of Barcelona
Petra Schmidl | Secretary of the Commission on History of Science and Technology in Islamic Societies (IUHPS)


Chairs: Miquel Forcada & Petra Schmidl

Friday, September 13, 2019

Morning Session | 09:00-11:00
Venue: Marasleio Room 6 

Petra Schmidl |Traces of Egyptian astronomical traditions in 13th century Yemen

Flora Vafea |The Armillary Sphere “Astrolabe” by Ptolemy according to the Description by Ḥabash al-Ḥāsib

Emilio Calvo and Rosa Comes | The transmission of toponymy from Arabic astronomical treatises to Medieval Latin. The case of Plato of Tivoli’s translation of al-Battani’s zij

Theo Loinaz | Medical Literature in Tenth-Century Andalus: Texts, Genres, and Sources

Noon Session | 11:30-13:30
Venue: Marasleio Room 6 

Miquel Forcada | Astronomy and the sciences of the reason in 10th century al-Andalus

Montse Diaz-Fajardo | Approximation to the alchemy of Ibn Arfa‘ Ra’s al-Andalusī (born in 1121, Jaen)

Julio Samsó | Tropical versus sidereal astronomy in the Iberian Peninsula

About the Symposium

The history of science in Islamicate societies is characterized by the constant flow of ideas and knowledge between several geographical regions. One of the central spaces of this intellectual activity is the Mediterranean basin. On the one hand, Greece is the fundamental cradle of the scientific legacy that the Islamic societies adopted as an essential element of their culture. On the other hand, the Greek legacy translated into Arabic spread along the southern border of the Mediterranean until the “Far West”, the Muslim Iberian Peninsula (al-Andalus). This legacy, reworked by scholars from Syria, Egypt, the Μaghrib, al-Andalus, and other akin regions, returned to Europe via new translations. The complexity of the phenomena of transmission that explain the intellectual exchange above described is complemented by another complexity: the intrinsic intricacies of a knowledge that aimed to give a full account of the universe. This is shown for instance in astronomy. The science of observing, describing and calculating the positions of the celestial bodies in the lunar and superlunary spheres was an important part of pre- and early modern Islamicate knowledge, as reflected in the sheer number of manuscripts and instruments preserved. In addition, it was closely related to other disciplines dealing with sublunary phenomena and human affairs like natural philosophy, medicine, timekeeping used to organize everyday profane as well as ritual life, astrology mainly understood as a tool helping people to explain the past, or to cope with the future, and so on. The panel will bring together research on different aspects of the Islamicate science, providing different research approaches that will allow gaining more insights into the social and intellectual complexities of scientific practice and transmission of knowledge around the Mediterranean in Medieval time.