Monthly Archives: February 2014

Mamluks and Seljuks

During the years of white ceramics, mathematics, and water clocks, the Abbasid dynasty was fairly stable. But no dynasty is ever easily stable; the Abbasid ruler had to move east to Samarra once, as power see-sawed. The Central Asia territory … Continue reading

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Gerbert as Pope Sylvester

I had trouble writing this entry because writerly discipline suggests I should stick with my main subject: the early Pope who attempted to introduce Arabic numbers, but failed. However, he was appointed Pope by his pupil, whom he was apparently … Continue reading

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Gerbert of Aurillac: early years

In the 960s, a French monk named Gerbert of Aurillac came to Barcelona under the protection of its Count. The Count met him while traveling, stopping in the Benedictine monastery of Aurillac, and was so impressed with the young man’s … Continue reading

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Mechanical engineering

Baghdad’s House of Wisdom also produced a collection of all of the mechanical engineering devices known at that time. It’s certainly a collection from China, India, Persia and Greece, like the other scientific works. We aren’t sure if the pictures … Continue reading

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Astronomy

There was always a very strong link between mathematics and astronomy in the ancient world. In Baghdad’s scholarly library, they collected astronomical calculations and theories from Greek literature (bought from Constantinople) that was based on earlier Babylonian work. They also … Continue reading

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