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Mathematical Treasures - Arabic Treatise Concerning the Use of the Astrolabe

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

This Arabic work, Risālah fī al-ʻamal bi'l-asṭurlāb (Treatise concerning the use of the astrolabe, Oriental MS Plimpton 284), by Ḥaydar ibn 'Abd al-Raḥmān Jazarī, was signed by the scribe, ʻAbd Allāh al-Bukhārī, on 22 February 1726. It may have come from what is now Iraq. Several undated manuscript copies of this work about the astrolabe are extant, though nothing is known about its author. In this copy, the ten chapters of the treatise are followed by a concise commentary. The page layout of the opening pages shows that the scribe expected the addition of an illuminated headpiece, because the work begins mid-page with the invocation of God (basmala). The manuscript’s wide margins were purposefully designed to provide the reader with sufficient space for their own notes and comments.

Pages from an 18th-century Arabic treatise on the astrolabe.

The image above was obtained through the courtesy of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasures - Arabic Treatise Concerning the Use of the Astrolabe," Convergence (April 2021)

Mathematical Treasures from the Smith and Plimpton Collections at Columbia University