Chronolgy of Events in Muslim Heratige

This is a short and incomplete list of major developments made by Muslims during the 9th to 16th Centuries.

9th Century

 

800AD Muslim merchants reach China (Canton). Foundation of a paper factory in Baghdad; the first in history outside China. The Muslims use different materials from the Chinese, though. This is a development that would subsequently revolutionise learning. The paper industry spreads from Baghdad, to Syria and further West, until it reaches about a century later Europe (Spain) via Morocco. Mash’allah writes on the Astrolabe. He was one of the earliest astronomers and astrologers in Islam. Only one of his writings is extant in Arabic, but there are many medieval Latin and Hebrew translations of it. His most popular book in the Middle Ages was the `De scientia motus orbis,’ translated by G. Cremonna in the twelfth century. Al-Tabari writes on Astronomy.

807AD Harun al-Rashid gives Charlemagne a clock that struck the hours.

808AD Foundation of the city of Fez by the Idrisids in Morocco.

815AD Foundation in Baghdad of the science library and academy Bayt al-Hikma.

820AD Possible year of the death of Ibn Muhammad. Muslim historian and archaelogist. He completed the studies of his father (Muhammad) on Arabian antiquity and became the leading authority of his time on the subject. His main work deals with the genealogy of the Arabs (Kitab al-nassab al-kabir…)

820AD Mohammed ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi writes Al-jabr wa’l Muqabalah, from which we derive the word “Algebra”, which gives algorithms for finding the positive solutions to all equations of the first and second degree (linear and quadratic). Al-Khwarizmi was one of the first to compute astronomical and trigonometrical tables.

820-829AD Birth of Astronomer and Geographer al Farghani. al-Farghani (Alfraganus) was the first Muslim writer to write a comprehensive treatise on astronomy, that was very popular until the fifteenth century. It influenced not only the Muslim, but also through Latin and Hebrew translations, the Christian and Jewish astronomers.

829AD Al-Mamun has an observatory built. His astronomers calculate the inclination of the ecliptic at 23 degree 33′. They also construct tables of planetary motion. The same scientists calculate the circumference of the earth, putting it at 20, 400 miles.

830AD The Baghdad observatory determines the position of the solar apogee as 82039′.

831AD Death of Al-Asmai. He was a very pious scholar. He wrote many works chiefly on the horse (kitab al-Khail), on the camel (Kitab al-Ibil), on wild animals (Kitab al-Wuhush), on the making of man (Kitab khalk al-Insan). This work shows that the Muslims already had vast knowledge of human anatomy.

836AD Thabit ibn Qurra (to write later on the Balance) is born in Turkey.

840-849AD The traveller Suleiman reaches China. Tales of his trip become the first accounts of China in the Muslim world.

840-849AD The first Muslim writing that records sunspots, by Al-Muqtafi.

847AD Death of the mathematician Al-Khwarazmi.

850AD Sahl ibn Bishr writes on arithmetic, algebra, and astronomy.

851AD Publication by an anonymous author of the accounts of Suleiman the merchant, who had travelled to the coast lands of the Indian Ocean and to China This is the first Arabic account of China and of many of the coastlands of the Indian Ocean. Suleiman records the use of fingerprints as signature by the Chinese.

858AD Birth in Haran (Turkey) of Al-Batani (Albategnius). He is to introduce into Astronomy the use of Trigonometry, and carry extensive precise measurements. He also made a number of observations from 877 on, and in 880 compiled a catalogue of stars for that year. He determined astronomical coefficients with great accuracy, discovered the motion of the solar apsides, and wrote an astronomical treatise which remained authoritative until the sixteenth century. In his treatise is a trigonometrical summary that includes sines, tangents and cotangents. It contains a table of cotangents by degrees and a theorem equivalent to our formula giving the cosine of a side of a spherical triangle in function of the cosine of the opposite angle and of the sines and cosines of the other sides.

860AD Al-Kindi writes on Astronomy, geometrical and physiological optics; he also criticises alchemy. His writings on music are the earliest of their kind extant in Arabic; they include a notation for the determination of pitch.

861AD Death of Al-Farghani.

870AD Tabit ibn Qorra writes on Conics. The Three Brothers Banu Musa write on Geometry, and Astronomy. Among other works also attributed to them is one on the balance. Death of al-Kindi, philosopher and scientist.

875AD Muslim travellers to China report having seen toilet paper in use in that country.

877AD Ahmad ibn Tulun, a Turkish slave who had risen to high command in the caliph’s armies, became the governor of Egypt in 868. This year begins the construction of the impressive mosque of `Ibn Tulun’ in the garrison town of Al-Qata’i’ (part of modem Cairo).

880-909AD Al-Battani (Albategnius) calculates the length of the year and determines the precession of the equinoxes.

Al-Razi (chemist and physicist) is the first scientist to make an accurate classification of chemical substances into mineral, vegetable, animal, and derivative. He also sub-classifies minerals into metals, spirits, salts, and stones. He also gives formulae for making metallic antimony, soap and many other substances. Al-Razi was translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona and others. Most of the works of Al-Razi have been printed many times, in Venice in 1509, Paris in 1528 and 1548. His treatise on small pox was reprinted in 1745. Medical universities have relied primarily on his works for their courses.

10th Century

900AD Abu Kamil writes important works of Geometry and Algebra. Al-Misri writes on Geometry.

901AD Thabit ibn Qurra dies in Baghdad.

910AD Al-Nairizi writes on Geometry. Al-Faradi writes on Arithmetic.

922AD Ibn-Fadlan, is part of an embassy to the Scandinavian Rus along the Volga. He writes his account of their customs.

923AD Death of al Al-Tabari, historian. He was born in 839, in Amul, in Tabaristan, hence his surname. His studies took through the vast land of Islam, via: Ravy, Baghdad, Basra, Kufa, to Syrian centres of learning, then Fustat in Egypt, then back to Baghdad.

940AD Birth of Abu’l Wafa. He worked at the observatory of Sharaf al-Daula. He made observations using a 20 ft quadrant and a 56 ft stone sextant. He wrote Theories of the Moon. He introduced in mathematics the Tangent ratio (opposite / adjacent sides of right triangle). He also developed spherical trigonometry.

945AD Birth in the town of Aurillac, in Auvergne (France) of Gerbert who later becomes Pope Sylvester II. He is the first European to introduce Islamic mathematics into Europe from Spain. He also introduces the abacus. He is seen as a magician and dies poisoned.

950AD Ibn Yunis, Egyptian astronomer. He carries observations at the Cairo observatory.

950AD Earliest use of paper in Spain. In the period between 913 and 1005, all over the Muslim world, paper replaces rare and costly writing materials, which hence facilitates the making of books and the advance of learning.

953AD John, a monk from Gorze, in Lorraine (Eastern France, on the German frontier) was sent by Emperor Otto I as ambassador to Muslim Cordova. Amidst a complex diplomatic process, he spent there three years. He met amongst others Bishop Recemundus, who was acquainted with Islamic learning. John of Gorze also brought back with him manuscripts which made Lorraine one of the first centres for the diffusion of Muslim science.

960AD Al-Khazini writes on Geometry. Al-Khazini is also the author of Mizzan al-Hikma, one of the fundamental treatises on mechanics and physics of medieval times. It includes a theory of gravity; tables of densities, not only of solids but also of liquids. According to Al-Khazinini densities were also investigated by al-Biruni. Al-Khazini also describes the construction of a 24hr water clock designed for astronomical purposes.

961AD This year appears the Calendar of Cordova. In this treatise, nearly nine centuries ahead of similar ones in Europe, can be found all science regarding soil use, irrigation, times for planting, harvests, actions against parasites and insects, farming administrative procedures at times of the year, and all details that regard farming in all its complexities.

973AD Birth of physicist, mathematician, traveller and geographer Al-Biruni.

977AD A hospital is founded in Baghdad. It employees 24 physicians, and includes a surgery and a department for eye diseases.

980AD Birth near Bukhara of Ibn Sina, who later writes The Canon of Medicine, in five volumes. The Latin translation of Ibn Sina was printed at Milan in 1473, at Padua (Italy) in 1476, and at Strasbourg (France) earlier. Abu’l Wafa writes important work on Trigonometry.

987AD Al-Muqaddassi, in his introduction to his treatise Description of the Muslim Empire (written that year), asserts that he is guided by personal observations first and foremost. Bookish authorities only come last. Al-Muqaddassi was born in Jerusalem, and travelled widely through the Muslim world. In his work: Ahsan at-taqasim fi Ma’rifat al-Aqalim,he provides descriptions of the lands and regions he passed through of the first order. This treatise: Ahsan At-taqassim… (The best division) has been repeatedly edited and translated into European languages.

988AD Beginning of Al-Azhar university.

11th Century

1000-1009AD The Muslims introduce the lemon plant to Sicily and Spain.

1000AD Ibn Sina writes major book on Geometry; and another on arithmetic. Al-Majriti (from Madrid) writes on Geometry. He also wrote `some chapters indispensable for everyone who wishes to construct an astrolabe,’ which includes a table of 21 stars entitled Table of the Places of the fixed stars. Hamid ibn Al-Khidr writes on Algebra, and on the Astrolabe. Ibn Al-Haytham writes on Geometry; and on algebra. Mansur ibn ‘Ali writes on Trigonometry. Ibn Yunis writes on Astronomy. Al-Biruni writes a major work on mathematics.

1008AD The large astronomical tables are compiled by Ibn Yunus. These tables are accurate astronomical and mathematical tables based on 200 years of (naked eye) observations. Ibn Al-Haytham correctly explains how lenses work, and develops parabolic mirrors, similar to those used in today’s reflecting telescopes.

1026AD Birth of Gerbert’s student Wilhelm, abbot of Hirschau (1026-1091), who taught mathematics and astronomy.”

1028AD Another student of Gerbert, Guido of Arezzo (Aretinus), a Benedictine monk from Pomposa, near Ferrara, writes on arithmetic. 1029AD Al-Zarqali is born; He edits a set of planetary tables-The Toledan Tables- for the year 1080. He also built astronomical instruments, and wrote al-Safiha al-Zarqaliya (Azafea), on the universal astrolabe, invented by him, which could be used to solve all the problems of spherical astronomy for any latitude.

1030AD Al-Biruni (973-1050) completes his book on India, which gives the first, thorough account of that country.

1035AD Birth of Ibn al-Saffar (Al-Ghafiqi), a native of Cordova, who wrote on astronomical tables and instruments. N. Khosraw, on a visit to Cairo, was surprised to see: `sellers of vegetables, spices, hardware, provided with paper in which all they sold was immediately wrapped up’, a generalised use of paper similar to what we have today, centuries ahead of anywhere else.

1037AD Death of Ibn Sina. Death of Ibn Al-Haytham.

1048AD Death of Al-Biruni.

1050-1059AD The Muslims introduce the decimal system into Spain.

1050AD The supernova that now forms the Crab Nebula is observed in Japan, China, and the Muslim world, and stays visible in the sky for 22 months.

1067AD Nizam Al-Mulk establishes the first college of Islam in Baghdad (Al-madrasa Al-nizamiyya).

1070-1089AD Al-Zarqali suggests that the orbits of the planets are ellipses, preceding Kepler by centuries.

1076AD Death of Ibn Haiyan. He was born at Cordova in 987-88. He was a Hispano Muslim historian. Author of an immense history of Spain in 60 volumes (Kitab al-matin, Liber solidus) and of a shorter work, in 10 volumes, dealing with the biographies of Hispano-Muslim scholars (Kitab al-Muqtabis fi Tarikh al-Andalus).

1085AD Alfonso VI of Castile takes Toledo, Spain, from the Muslims. This is an important centre of Islamic learning, and will become the centre of translation of Muslim science into Latin in the following century.

12th century

1106AD Birth of Ibn Bajja (Avempace). He is a Hispano Muslim. His main works are on physics. He also constructed a planetary system. He died in Fez in 1139.

1100AD Abu’l-Salt (from Spain) writes on Geometry. He also wrote on mechanics. During his long stay in Egypt (1096-1112) he tried to raise a ship sunk at Alexandria, but failed.

1111AD Death of al -Ghazali. He wrotes many treatises, including a classification of the sciences; and on the education of the child.. He also criticised speculative theology and philosophy, and the Shi’ite Isma’iliyya. He was seen as a renewer of the Sunni faith.

1111AD Adelard of Bath, the first English scientist, studied at Toledo, Tours, Laon, the East, and who travelled through Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, and beyond. Inspired by Muslim learning, he writes Questiones Naturales. It is one of the first writings towards what is now called the Scientific Method. He summarizes knowledge gained from Muslim sources including Acoustics, Botany, Meteorology, and Optics. Roughly this time, he also writes Rules of the Abacus and Usage of the Astrolabium.

1114AD Birth of Italian scholar Gerard of Cremona in Italy. He will become the main translator of Islamic science in the city of Toledo.

1126AD Adelard of Bath translates Al-Khowarizmi’s Astronomical Tables. At roughly this time, he also translates Al- Khwarizmi’s Liber ysagogarum alchorismi (about arithmetic) from Arabic to Latin.

1127AD Liber regalis (al-Kitab al-Maliki) by Ali Abbas al-Majusti is translated by Stephen of Antioch. This follows an earlier incomplete translation by Constantine the African.

1130AD Adelard of Bath made a translation of Maslama’s edition of AL-Khwarizmi’s astronomical tables in 1126.

1140AD Decree by Roger II, Norman king, that medicine may only be practiced by physicians with a government license. This follows a practice already established in the Muslim world centuries before.

1143AD Robert of Chester translates the Koran into Latin, apparently the first to ever do this.This translation, however, is riddled with distortions.

1145AD Robert of Chester also translates Al-Khwarizmi’s Algebra into Latin.

1150AD Jabir Ibn Aflah died; He worked at Seville. He wrote Kitab al-Haia; and criticised the Ptolemaic theory of the planets. He held that Mercury and Venus must have a perceptible parallax; Venus may happen to be exactly on the line joining the sun and the earth. He also invented the astronomical instrument called the turquet.

1158AD The University of Bologna formally founded in Italy. Like subsequent universities set up in Europe, they are fundamentally inspired by Islamic learning and science.

1167-1168AD The University of Oxford is formally set up in England, although it had begun lectures as early as 1133. The influence of Daniel of Morley and Jewish scholars inspired by Islamic learning is crucial to its development.

1170’sAD Italian scholar Gerard of Cremona translates nearly a hundred works, including treatises by al-Kindi, Thabit ibn Qurra, Al-Razi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina.

1175AD Birth of Michael Scott, also known as “the Wizard Michael Scott”. He studies at Oxford and Paris. He learns Arabic. He lives in the Muslim influenced island of Sicily under Frederick II. He makes translations of Al-Bitruji.

1180AD Daniel Morley (or Merlai, Merlac, Marlach) from England. He was very much influenced by Islamic science. He made studies at Oxford; Paris and Toledo. He is credited of initiating learning at the University of Oxford.

1189AD Herault, France, has a paper mill established, likely the first in Europe, other than Spain.

1198AD The philosopher Ibn Rushd; Averroes dies in Marrakesh, Morocco.

13th century and after

1200AD Around this time, Al-Bitruji who lived in Spain (most likely in Seville) wrote a mathematical theory of Astronomy.

1202AD Leonardo Fibonacci (born in Pisa, Italy), who had been taught mathematics in Bejaia (Algeria), publishes “Liber abaci” [Book of the Abacus”], the first European book to use “0” for Zero, and including his famous series 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55… known to us a Fibonacci’s Sequence.

1202AD Leonardo Fibonacci (born in Pisa, Italy), who had been taught mathematics in Bejaia (Algeria), publishes “Liber abaci” [Book of the Abacus”], the first European book to use “0” for Zero, and including his famous series 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55… known to us a Fibonacci’s Sequence.

1203AD Birth of Ibn Abi Usaybia (1203-70). He wrote the biographies of 400 Muslim medical scholars.

1210-1211AD Death of Ibn al-Katib, the author of works with discussions on Architecture, Arithmetic, and Geometry.

1211AD Birth of Ibn Khallikan (1211-1282) who, in his work Obituaries of men of Note, wrote about the lives of 865 distinguished Muslim scholars.

1217AD Michael Scott translates “Liber astronomiae” [“Book of Astronomy”] by al-Bitruji.

1222AD Founding in Italy of the University of Padua, mainly dealing with medicine. Again Islamic influence is very strong.

1224AD Founding in Italy of the University of Naples.

1224AD The first Franciscans arrive at the University of Oxford, helping to spread Islamic learning acquired in Southern Europe.

1229AD Founding in France of the University of Toulouse.

1230AD Approximate date of founding, in Spain, of Salamanca University.

1231AD Cambridge University is founded.

1244AD Beginning of the University of Rome.

1248AD Death of Ibn Al-Qifti. He wrote on the lives of 414 philosophers and scientists.

1253AD Founding in Paris of the Sorbonne University

1250sAD Ibn Bedr of Seville writes a collection of texts on Algebra.

1250AD King Alfonso X of Castile orders the astronomical table compilation `The Alfonsine Tables,’ based mostly on Islamic learning, completed in 1272, and published in 1483.

1253AD The Decimal System for numbers is introduced into England by Sacrobosco (John of Halifax).

1258AD Born around this year, died 1339, is Ibn al-Banna al-Marrakushi. He was best known for his Talkhis, a treatise on Arithmetic. He also wrote about Algebra, the Astrolabe, Astronomy, Mensuration, and Proportion.

1258AD The Mongols devastate Baghdad. The other centres of Islamic science had also just fallen (Cordova: 1236; Valencia: 1238, and Seville: 1248). This is the beginning of the end for Muslim civilisation.

1259AD Moses ben Tibbon (whose father and grandfather also did such translations) translated the Astronomy of Al-Bitruji [1200], and probably also the Aritmetic of Al-Hassar, from Arabic to Hebrew.

1259AD In Maragha, begins the building the Observatory of Nasir al-Din al Tusi. He will begin observations here, which will be completed in 1272 and called Zij-i Ilkhani.

1270AD “Perspectiva” [“Perspectives”] is published by Witelo (a German-Polish scholar). This treatise on optics, wholly based on Ibn al-Haytham’s earlier work rejects the Greek notion that rays travel from the eye to the thing seen. The work also covers geometrical optics, reflection, and refraction.

1279AD Al-Qalasadi, the last great Muslim mathematicians of Spain, is born near Granada. He writes about Arithmetic and original notions of Number Theory. He invented a new sign for radicals, and one for equality. He suggested a system of “ascending continued fractions.” The Sicilian King, Charles of Anjou orders the translation of The “Liber continens” medical encyclopedia of Al-Razi. It is translated from Arabic to Latin by Moses Farachi.

1281AD “Nihayat al-idrak fi dirayat al-aflak”, by Qutb al-Din al Shirazi, provides a non-Ptolemaic model of the Solar System, which uses uniform motions in a circle as much as possible. This is one of the sources of Copernicus subsequent theory.

1284AD Death, in Seville, Spain, of monarch Alfonso X of Castile, 24 April 1284. His astronomical legacy was primarily based on Islamic learning.

1293AD First paper mill in Bologna (Italy) established.

1294AD Paper money is issued at Tabriz in Chinese and Arabic texts for the first time.

1299AD Arabic numerals are banned in Florence, Italy.

1309AD First use of paper in England.

1326AD Ibn Battuta, from Tangiers starts his exploration of India, Ceylon, China, and the Orient. He was to become the greatest explorer of his era.

1407AD Death of Algerian scholar Ibn Qunfudh. He wrote Help to the students for the determination of the Positions of the Planets.

1550AD Sinan builds the Sulaymaniye Mosque in istambul.

Sources and References:

B. Hetherington: A Chronicle of Pre-Telescopic Astronomy; John Wiley and Sons; Chichester; 1996.

D. Hunter: papermaking: the History and technique of an ancient craft; Pleiades Books; London; 1943; 1947.

George Sarton: Introduction to the History of Science, in 3 vols; The Carnegie institution of Washington, 1927 onwards.

“The Timetables of Science”, by Alexander Hellemans and Bryan Bunch , [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988].

“The 1979 Hammond Almanac” [ed. Martin A. Bacheller et al, Maplewood, New Jersey, 1978], p.795.

D.E. Smith’s “History of Mathematics” [(c) 1921 by David Eugene Smith; (c) 1951 by May Luse Smith; New York: Dover, 1958].

http://www.magicdragon.com/UltimateSF/timeline11.html

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