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Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Volume 1 pdf

book-icon-openmaktabaBook Title: Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Volume 1
author-icon-openmaktabaBook Author: ROSHDI RASHED (edt)
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8 REGIS MORELONauthors under the title al-arjabhar; Khandakhadyaka by Brahmagupta (d.after 665), known in Arabic under the title Zij al-arkand; andMahassidhanta, written towards the end of the seventh or at the beginning ofthe eighth century, which passed into Arabic under the title Zij al-Sindhind. 5These texts are based on the yearly cycles corresponding to Indiancosmology, and their scientific tradition is linked with an earlier period ofHellenistic astronomy than that of Ptolemy; they thus preserve a certainnumber of elements that can be traced back to the time of Hipparchus. Theycontain few theoretical developments but methods of calculation for creatingtables and numerous parameters of the movement of stars. The major scientificinnovation of the Indian scientists in this field is the introduction of the sine(half-chord of the double arc) in trigonometric calculations, which makesthese much less cumbersome than the chords of arcs used in Greekastronomy since Hipparchus (see vol. II, chapter 15). n Persia, under the Sasanids (AD 226—651), some activity in scientificastronomy developed in the Pahlavi language, under both Indian and Greekinfluence (Ptolemy’s Almagest was translated into Pahlavi in the thirdcentury). This work seems to have been primarily oriented toward astrology,and the only traces which remain are found in Arabic texts from the end ofthe eighth century onw ard; these refer in particular to the ‘Royal tables’ (Zij al-Shah), several successive versions of which are reported: from 450, 556 and630 or 640 (under Yazdegerd III). These tables depended principally on16Indian parameters.The chapters which follow detail how the Arab astronomers worked withthese different sources. BSERVATIONS AND OBSERVATORIESSmall portable instruments and sundials are described in Chapters 4 and 5.Here we shall confine ourselves to a brief presentation of observatories and17their large-scale instruments.Ibn Y unus reports that astronomical observations were carried out atGundishapur at the end of the eighth century by al-Nihawandi (d. AH 174(AD 790)), whose work has been lost. 18 But the earliest precise observationalresults to have come down to us were recorded first in the al-Shammasiyyaquarter in Baghdad, and then on Mount Qasiyun at Damascus, in the finalyears of the reign of Caliph al-Ma’mun (813—33) and through his impetus.They involved a precise programme dealing particularly with the sun and themoon, and at Damascus there was a complete year of continuous observationof the sun in AH 216—17 (AD 831—2). The work does not appear to havecontinued at these two sites after the death of al-Ma’mun.

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