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Post  Post subject: Arab science in the golden age (750–1258 C.E.)  |  Posted: Mon May 06, 2013 12:56 am
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Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:53 pm
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Location: Farnham Royal, Bucks

Lest we forget... The Golden Age of Arabic science could best be called a Judeo-Muslim-Christian Age where all three major faiths accepted human reasoning as the highest of human faculties and for whom the reasoned study of the world using the scientific method gave us the foundation for the hypothetico-deductive method in use today as a means of finding objective truth (if it truly exists).


The biomedical sciences of the Arabic-Islamic world underwent remarkable development during the 8th to 13th centuries C.E., a flowering of knowledge and intellect that later spread throughout Europe and greatly influenced both medical practice and education. The scientific glory of the Arabic nation originated on the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century C.E., where the preaching of the prophet Mohammed united the Arab tribes and inaugurated the Muslim religion (1)⇓ . The Islamic state was formed in 622 C.E., when the Prophet moved from Mecca to Medina. Within a century after his death (632 C.E.) a large part of the planet, from southern Europe throughout North Africa to Central Asia and on to India, was controlled by and/or influenced by the new Arabic-Muslim Empire (1⇓ , 2)⇓ . In 711 C.E., Arab Muslims invaded southern Spain and a center of flourishing civilization (al-Andalus) was created (1)⇓ . Another center emerged in Baghdad from the Abbasids, who ruled part of the Islamic world during a historic period later characterized as the “Golden Age” (∼750 to 1258 C.E.) (3)⇓ .

Progress was apparent in all medical fields, including anatomy, surgery, anaesthesia, cardiology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, bacteriology, urology, obstetrics, neurology, psychiatry (including psychotherapy), hygiene, dietetics, and dentistry (1⇓ , 4⇓ , 7)⇓ .

Advances in medical sciences were not an isolated phenomenon. Astonishing progress was made in astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, and other fields of science (1⇓ , 6⇓ , 8)⇓ . Prominent astronomers were Ibn Firnas, who constructed a planetarium and reputedly was the first man to fly; Al-Zarqali, who created a kind of astrolabe for measuring the motion of the stars; Al-Bitruji, who studied stellar movements; Al-Fargani, who wrote the Elements on Astronomy; and al-Sufi, who described the Andromeda galaxy. Mathematics was closely linked to astronomy and almost every mathematician was also an astronomer (8)⇓ . Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry flourished. Famous geometricians were Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, who first translated Euclid’s Elements; and Muhammad and Hasan Banu Musa, who wrote books on the measurement of the sphere and trisection of angles and who discovered kinematical methods of drawing ellipses (8)⇓ . Among arithmeticians and algebraists, al-Khwarazmi was considered the greatest. He obtained data from Greeks and Hindus and transmitted arithmetical and algebraic knowledge, which exerted great influence upon medieval mathematics (8)⇓ . Finally, trigonometry was developed along with astronomy with important representatives such as Ahmad al-Nahawandi, Al-Khwarizmi, Habash al-Hasib, Yahya ibn abi Mansur, and Sanad ibn Ali (8)⇓ . In the field of chemistry, Jabir Ibn Haiyan introduced the meaning of experimentation, leading from alchemy to modern chemistry.

Additionally, the Golden Age was characterized by technological, architectural, and artistic achievements (Figs. 1⇓ and 2)⇓ . Methods for irrigation including underground channels, windmills, and waterwheels were some of the Arabic inventions (6⇓ , 9)⇓ , while even today Arab architectural miracles and unique objects of art can be admired in many countries, with many of the best examples in southern Spain.
Figure 1.


Although the Arabs and Muslims in general are seen as "boogeymen" who would ruthlessly wipe out innocent lives, much in the same vein as the "Commies" in the sixties and the IRA in the eighties and nineties, this was not always the case.

Barbarus hic ego sum quia non intelligor illis (I am a barbarian to those who do not know me) Ovid

Post  Post subject: Re: Arab science in the golden age (750–1258 C.E.)  |  Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:31 pm
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Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:43 am
Posts: 582

So, what brought it to a close?

The golden age seems to have begun shortly after the conquest of Spain. Got to figure that conquest will always increase a nation's wealth, making it easier to afford art and science. But if it were only that, then it probably wouldn't have lasted 500 years.

Maybe the conquest of the Northern part of their empire by Ghengis Khan around 1200 AD? He didn't conquer Europe (apparently Europe wasn't wealthy enough to be worth the trouble). That alone might have helped Europeans gain an edge.

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