Compendium of Latin Translations of Persian Astronomical Tables


This volume is a compendium of six works that includes Latin translations of portions of the Zīj-i Sulṭānī by Muḥammad Ṭaraghāy ibn Shāhrukh ibn Tīmūr (1394–1449), known as Ulugh Beg. The other works include an excerpt from the Taqwīm al-Buldān (entitled “A Description of Khwārazm and Transoxiana from the Tables of Abū al-Fidāʾ”) by Abū al-Fidāʾ Ismāʿīl Ibn ʿAlī (1273-1331), and a star table by Muhammad ibn Muhammad Tizīnī. Ulugh Beg (“Great Commander” in Turkish) was a grandson of Tīmūr (known in the West as Tamerlane) and the governor of Transoxiana. In the brief period following the death, in 1447, of his father, Shāhrukh ibn Tīmūr, Ulugh Beg was sultan of the Tīmūrid realms. He is known as a patron of poetry, literature, and especially of architecture. He built madrasahs in Bukhara and in his capital city of Samarqand, both of which were supported by substantial waqfs (religious endowments). His other building projects included those at Gur-Emir, Shahrisabz, and Shah-i Zindah. His most famous act of patronage, however, was the building, in circa 1420, of the observatory at Samarqand, of which he also served as director. There he assembled a large number of scientists, the most famous of whom were the renowned astronomer Jamshīd ibn Masʻūd Kāshī and the head professor in Ulugh Beg’s madrasah, Mūsá ibn Muḥammad Qāḍīʹzādah. The observational program was led by Kāshī and Qāḍīzāda until their deaths (Kāshi in 1429 and Qāḍīzāda in 1436). The astronomical observations were continued under ʻAlī Qūshchī, a student of Qāḍīzāda and Ulugh Beg. Ulugh Beg completed his astronomical tables, the Zīj al-Sulṭānī or Zīj-i Ulugh Beg, in about 1441. Based largely on observations carried out at his observatory, this work became the standard star table well into the following century. The sections from the Zīj-i Ulugh Beg included in this book were translated by John Greaves (1602–52) and Thomas Hyde (1636–1703) and printed at the Oxford University Press in London in 1655. Greaves was an English mathematician, astronomer, orientalist and antiquary. Hyde was professor of Arabic and Persian and Bodley’s librarian at Oxford.

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H. Hall, Oxford, England

Title in Original Language

Chorasmiae, et Marawalnaharae, hoc est, Regionum extra fluvium Oxum Descriptio, Ex Tabulis Abulfedae Ismaelis…Epochae celebriores, Astronomis, Historicis, Chronologis, Chataiorum, Syro-Graecorum, Arabum, Persarum, Chorasmiorum…Ex traditione Ulug Beigi…Tabulae longitudinae ac latitudinae stellarum fixarum, ex observatione Ulugh Beighi… Mohammedis Tizini Tabulae declinationum & rectarum ascensionum… elenchus nominarum stellarum…In Ulugh Beighi Tabulas stellarum Fixarum Commentarii…

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239 pages ; 25 centimeters

Last updated: April 27, 2015