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1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now Online

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A massive undertaking by the Qatar Digital Library that preserves a millennium of scientific work. (h/t: S. I.)

By Mark Strauss, io9 

Between the 9th and 19th centuries, Arabic-speaking scholars translated Greek, Latin and even Sanskrit texts on topics such as medicine, mathematics and astronomy, fostering a vibrant scientific culture within the Islamic world. Some of the most influential texts are now available at the Qatar Digital Library.

The library, a joint project of the British Library and the Qatar Foundation, offers free access to 25,000 pages of medieval Islamic manuscripts. Among some of the most significant texts:

The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices (1206 A.D.), which was inspired by an earlier, 9th-century translation of Archimedes’ writings on water clocks. Devices such as the “Elephant Clock” (pictured below) were the most accurate time-keeping pieces before the first pendulum clocks were built in the 17th century by the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens.

1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now OnlineExpand

Another water clock design features balls dropping onto a cymbal from a bird’s head.

1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now OnlineExpand

This is one of the only three recorded copies of an influential treatise on the construction and use of astrolabes by Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (973-1048), containing 122 diagrams.

1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now OnlineExpand

A translation (615 AD) of Ptolemy’s mathematical and astronomical treatise, The Almagest.

1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now OnlineExpand

An Arabic version of De Materia Medica, an encyclopedia of herbs and medicine written in the first century AD by Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek-born, Roman physician. This translation was completed in Baghdad in 1334 A.D.

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  • Lithium2006

    They didn’t “botch” they wanted the Mideast divided and powerless. and installing/supporting dictators was to ensure the region would remained divided.

  • Julieann Wozniak

    Amazing stuff. And yet another reason to get off my lazy duff and take a language class at the Morgantown Islamic Center.

  • Followed by not following Islam…

  • Laurent Weppe

    What happened?

    Colonialism happened.

    Well technically, parasitic hereditary nobilities taking over the polity founded by a man who had to flee his hometown after openly denouncing hereditary rule and clanism, followed by civil and feudal dismantling as every ruling family tried to carve their own personal kingdoms, followed by mongol invasion of the weakened polity, followed by more feudal infighing, followed by rise then decline of Ottoman rule, followed by colonialism…

  • John Smith

    My theory is after the Ottomans fell, the Europeans botched the job of creating a new Middle East to fill the power vacuums. So dictators, monarchs, religious extremists and other nasties gained power. And now they oppress their own people.

  • Yausari

    Hey, I’m still cool! I’m hip bro! I mean like – whatever dude…

  • mindy1

    Oh how cool-i have always thought of science as a uniting force if used properly

  • mindy1

    lol

  • Tanveer ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Khan

    I like this comment.

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