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Description of the Celestial Globe belonging to Major-General Sir John Malcolm, G.C.B., K.L.S., &c. &c., deposited in the Museum of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland

  • Bernhard Dorn

Amongst those sciences which, after a long interval of ignorance and barbarity, were revived by the Mahomedan Arabs, astronomy ranks very high; and it cannot be denied, that had not the Arabs applied themselves to it with great assiduity and zeal, and encouraged all that served to promote its dissemination and advancement, after it had remained almost totally forgotten from the time of Ptolemy, the application to its study would, perhaps, never have extended over so large a portion of the globe as it has done. Although the pagan inhabitants of Arabia, before the time of Islamism, were in the habit of observing the stars, many of which they knew, and denominated by names taken from pastoral life, and several of which they even worshipped as visible gods, yet of a scientific knowledge of astronomy among them no traces can be discovered. The revival, therefore, of this celestial science, was principally attributable to their Mahomedan successors, who introduced its study into Arabia, at a time when the countries around them were immersed in the most deplorable state of mental darkness, which could only be dissipated by slow degrees.

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page 373 note *

page 374 note * Untersuchungen über den Ursprung und die Bedeutungen der Sternnamen, von L. Ideler. Berlin, 1809, 8vo.

page 376 note * Of the many individuals recorded as having added to a knowledge of astronomy that of constructing instruments, I think it not improper to give here a short list; such a one, to my knowledge, having never yet been published. Amongst those whom Almamun invited to Bagdad for the cultivation of this science we may name the following, viz. Abbas ben Said Algiouhari; Send ben Ali; Yahya ben Abi, Monsur Almamuni (or astronomer to Almamun), &c. Besides whom may be mentioned, Abu Jafar ben Ahmed Habush; Ali Abul Hassan ben Ismael Giouhari, at Bagdad; Alhassan ben Alhassan ben Alhaitham Abul Ali Albasri, who wrote on almost every branch of mathematics and astronomy; Fath ben Nagiaba, surnamed Al-Astralabi (died A.H. 1058); Mohammed ben Isa ben Ali; Harun ben Ali ben Yahya ben Mansur, who flourished at Bagdad, under the government of the Dilemides; and Habbat Allah ben Alhossain Abul Kasem, who also flourished at Bagdad, in the time of the khalif Mostarshed. The most skilful mechanic, however, according to the testimony of the Mohammedan authors, was Ahmed ben Mohammed, a Persian, who not only made the finest instruments, but invented several new ones, to the great advantage of the science.

Amongst those above mentioned, are some who wrote also on the construction and use of instruments: for instance, Jafar ben Ahmed ben Habush; Mohammed ben Isa ben Ali, and others. The following Mohammedans published treatises on the astrolabe, viz. Thabet ben Korra, about 840; Abu Ali Hussain ben Ahmed ben Maz Alaslemi, about 1274; Ahmed ben Alsophar, of Cordova; Mohammed Sebth, of Maredin; Moslama ben Ahmed Almagrehi, of Spain; Ali ben Isa Alashbili, of Seville; Mohammed ben Omar ben Alfarkan; Abu Bír Fadhl Mashalla, &c.

page 378 note * The constellations of the northern hemisphere, as represented on this globe, are given in the accompanying plate A.; those of the southern hemisphere, in plate B.

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Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland
  • ISSN: 0950-4737
  • EISSN: 2051-2058
  • URL: /core/journals/transactions-of-the-royal-asiatic-society-of-great-britain-and-ireland
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