A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
Fwd: Medieval Astronomical Instruments
From: Brian Whatcott
Date: 2002 Jun 27, 06:03 -0500
From: Brian Whatcott
Date: 2002 Jun 27, 06:03 -0500
I am relaying David's note on Rete as germane to readers of History of Astronomy, and the Navigation list, I expect. Brian Whatcott >From: Kingabumax@aol.com >Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2002 06:30:06 EDT >Subject: MEDIEVAL ASTRONOMICAL INSTRUMENTS >To: "Rete"
> >To colleagues in the History of Science, Medieval Islamic >Studies, Medieval European Studies, and the History of >Scientific Instruments ... > >Subject: Medieval Islamic and European Astronomical Instruments > > From Prof. David A. King >Institute for History of Science >Johann Wolfgang Goethe University >D 60054 Frankfurt am Main >em: firstname.lastname@example.org >or: email@example.com >Tel. +49-69-7982-2754 / -2337 / -2338 >Fax: -3275 > > >Dear Colleagues, > >There is now an updated website giving information about >research on medieval Islamic and European astronomical >instruments that has been conducted in Frankfurt over the >past 10 years. > >Some of this activity has been made possible by generous >support from the German Research Foundation (DFG). > >The new website features a list of publications, works in >press, and works in preparation by members of the Frankfurt >team, past and present. In these publications we have tried >to use astronomical instruments as historical sources within >their cultural and geographical contexts. Thus, for example, >it was possible to show that the astrolabe supposedly dedicated >by Regiomontanus to his patron Cardinal Bessarion in 1462 >but branded fake, was one of close to a dozen from the same >or closely-related workshops, some even by the same maker. >Again, it has been possible to show that various medieval >European instruments such as the quadrans vetus were known >already in 9th-century Baghdad. In the case of the elusive >navicula de Venetiis we have been able to show that all of >the components were known in the same milieu, as was a >more complicated instrument for timekeeping by the stars >for any latitude. New evidence from manuscripts establishes >the context of three brass world-maps from 17th-century >Iran bearing hightly-sophisticated grids preserving direction >and (the sine of) the distance to Mecca at the centre firmly in >earlier (10th and 11th century) Islamic mathematics. Some >of the studies concentrate on the inscriptions (such as >names of the zodiacal signs and months in regional Latin or >local vernaculars), the geographical information explicit or >implicit on instruments, and others treat the instruments >within the general context of astronomical timekeeping or >as historical works of art. > >There is also provisional table of contents (TOC) of the catalogue >that has been in preparation for the past few years. This TOC can >serve for the present and immediate future as an ordered list of >instruments, arranged chronologically by provenance. I would >be grateful for information on any early instruments that are >not listed here. > >The information on instruments from after ca. 1500 was compiled >about 10 years ago and in the main has not been touched since. >The entries for such instruments in the TOC for later instruments >have simply been picked up by the automatic TOC generator: >for many of them there are no descriptions, and none are planned. >Certain later sections of the catalogue/TOC have been made >redundant anyway by recent publications by Gerard Turner (English >Renaissance), Koenraad van Cleempoel (Flemish and Spanish >Renaissance), and the forthcoming publication by S. R. Sarma >(Indian instruments with inscriptions in Arabic-Persian-Sanscrit). > >The descriptions of instruments from before ca. 1500 are in >reasonable shape but are not yet publishable. The long-term >goal was/is to make the descriptions available, starting with >early Islamic instruments (to 1200) and then the earliest >European instruments. This will be done in small batches, and >some sample descriptions will eventually be put on this site. > >For the rest there is still plenty of work to be done. >Any serious researcher working on a specific group of >instruments is welcome to inspect the materials available here >or take over the descriptions of such a corpus of instruments. > >A major problem is the lack of adequate photographic >documentation. Only a minority of museums are capable of >preparing decent photos of instruments, and costs have >skyrocketed. See the site EPACT mentioned below for some >good photos. > >More serious problems are: 1) the fact that funding for >the project is virtually exhausted, and 2) the fact that most >of the young scholars who have been trained here in >the study of instruments have moved on. > >The website is: >http://www.uni-frankfurt.de/fb13/ign/instrument-catalogue.html >I hope that it will stimulate some serious interest in these >"forgotten treasures of the Middle Ages”. > >Yours sincerely, >David A. King > > > >IMPORTANT: The website >EPACT: Scientific Instruments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe. >http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/ >provides illustrations and descriptions of European instruments >in Oxford, Florence, London (BM) and Leiden Brian Whatcott Altus OK Eureka!