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Muḥammad al-Farghānī’s Elements of Chronology and Astronomy
This work is a Latin translation of al-Farghānī’s influential and well-known Kitāb jawāmiʿ ʿilm al-nujūm wa uṣūl al-ḥarakāt al-samāwīya (Book of generalities of astronomy and bases of celestial motions). Aḥmad ibn Moḥammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī was an astronomer who flourished at the court of the early Abbasid caliphs. He appears to have been active in the court of al-Ma’mun. If he is the same figure who is said to have been entrusted by al-Mutawakkil with the construction of the nilometer in Cairo, then he would have been active ...
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 ...
Muḥammad al-Farghānī’s Elements of Chronology and Astronomy
Aḥmad ibn Moḥammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī (flourished 861) was an astronomer who worked at the court of the early Abbasid caliphs. He appears to have been active in the court of al-Ma’mun, and he may well be the same figure who is said to have been entrusted by al-Mutawakkil with the construction of the nilometer in Cairo. In that case, he would have been active from the early decades of the ninth century to his death in 861 (spanning the rules of al-Ma’mun, al-Muʿtaṣim, al-Wāthiq, and ...
The Precious Book on Noteworthy Dates
This short work, entitled Kitāb al-yawāqīt fī ma‘rifat al-mawāqīt, and copied by an anonymous scribe in Shawwāl in June-July 1775 (AH 1168), is attributed to Ḥusayn (or Ḥasan) b. Zayd b. ‘Alī al-Jaḥḥāf, who is said to have dedicated it to Abū ‘Alī Manṣūr al-Ḥākim bi Amr-Allāh, the sixth Fāṭimid ruler (died 996). The manuscript lists the 12 months of the year, each on one sheet, in the form of an almanac. The last page is a one-page guide to the interpretation of dreams, reportedly prepared at the behest ...
The Dresden Codex
Only four Mayan manuscripts still exist worldwide, of which the oldest and best preserved is the Dresden Codex, held in the collections of the Saxon State and University Library. The manuscript was purchased for the Dresden court library in 1739 in Vienna, as a “Mexican book.” In 1853 it was identified as a Mayan manuscript. Consisting of 39 leaves, inscribed on both sides, and approximately 358 centimeters long, the manuscript originally was folded in an accordion-like manner. The chalk-coated writing material, amatl, is a paper-like matter produced from fig-tree fiber ...
“Pragmatica” on the Ten Days of the Year
This work is the first known South American imprint. It consists of a four-page edict, issued by King Philip II of Spain, decreeing the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. In order to bring the calendar back into line with the seasons, in February 1582 Pope Gregory XIII deleted ten days from the year 1582, so that October 4, 1582, of the Julian calendar was followed immediately by October 15, 1582, in the new Gregorian calendar. This work was produced in 1584 by Antonio Ricardo, an Italian typographer ...
The Book of Remedies from Deficiencies in Setting Up Marble Sundials
This work is a treatise for timekeepers (singular muwaqqit), and discusses the telling of time from such astronomical observations as the sun’s angle of inclination (mayl), altitude (irtifā‛), as well as the direction (samt) and length of cast shadows (zill). In 14 chapters, the author goes through methods for the computation of these factors, determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), and time of the day. He observes that using instruments (ālāt), such as markings on the ruler (mistara) and the compass (bargār, from the Persian pargār), and geometric ...
Seasonal Almanac Based on the Coptic Calendar
The author of this work, Shaykh al-Islām Ahmad al-Bashtakī, lived in Bashtak near central Cairo. The work goes through the 13 months of the Coptic calendar: Tūt (Thout), Bāba (Paopi), Hātūr (Hathur), Koihak (Koiak), Tūba (Tobi), Imshīr (Meshir), Baremhāt (Paremhat), Barmūda (Paremoude), Bashons (Pashons), Bawna or Būna (Paoni), Ibīb (Epip), Misurī (Mesori), and the Days of Nasī (ayyām al-nasī; also known as the Little Month, Pi Kogi Enavot, or El Nasii). The work gives the corresponding months in the Roman and Persian calendars, notes the astrological significance of days, and ...
Treatise for Observers on Constructing the Circle of Projection
This work is a treatise on the important subject of timekeeping. It is a work of technical astronomy, in 19 folios, that begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowledge of time. It is divided into an introduction, two chapters, and a conclusion. Comprehensive procedures for the construction of tables and their use are provided. The work was completed in 1473 (878 A.H.).
Compendium on Using the Device Known as the Almucantar Quarter
This work, by a timekeeper at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, is an important and comprehensive textbook on timekeeping. It introduces the useful device of dividing a quarter of a circle of projection into sections known as almucantars (muqanṭarāt). The work, comprising 100 folio pages, contains 30 chapters and a conclusion. The work was composed in 1440-1 (844 A.H.) and was copied in 1757 (1170 A.H.).
The Travelers Guide on Drawing the Circle of Projection
This is a work on timekeeping and the determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), particularly intended for people who travel. The author, Abu al-‛Abbās Shihāb al-Dīn Ahmad b. Zayn al-Dīn Rajab b. Tubayghā al-Atābakī, known as al-Majdī or Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was descended from a powerful family with ties to Mamlūk rulers and was a renowned and prominent mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He served as the timekeeper of the Al-Azhar Mosque. This work is an abridgment of his other major book, Irshād al-ḥā’ir ilā ...
Maximum Benefit from the Knowledge of Circles of Projection on the 30 Degree Northern Latitude
This work, a treatise on practical astronomy, deals with such issues as timekeeping and determining the proper direction of prayer. The work begins with a brief introduction, but the bulk of the manuscript contains tables used to determine time. The introductory section contains illustrative examples on how to use the tables.
Deliverance from Error on Knowledge of Times of Day and the Direction of Prayer
This work on elementary knowledge of practical astronomy begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowing how to keep the time and how to determine the proper direction of prayer (qibla). It describes the conventional correspondence between ordinal numbers and the letters of the Arabic alphabet. It then enumerates, and goes through, the names of the months in the lunar Arabic calendar and in the solar Coptic calendar. It highlights certain important dates, such as the beginning of the New Year, and introduces the 12 zodiacal signs. The front page ...
Winds of the Four Directions
This oracle bone from around 1200 B.C. contains 24 characters in four groups in a vigorous and strong style, typical of the Bin group of diviners in the reign of Wu Ding (circa 1200-1189 B.C.). It records the gods of the four directions and of the four winds. The winds of the four directions reflect the spring and autumn equinoxes, the summer and winter solstices, and the changes of the four seasons. The four winds are the east wind, called Xie; the south wind, called Wei; the west ...
A Treatise on Zodiacal Signs and Constallations: Unique Jewels on the Benefits of Keeping Time
This work is an introductory, but well-organized, treatise on the elements of time-keeping and reckoning. The treatise is divided into seven sections and a conclusion. It introduces the Arabic, Coptic, and Syriac (or Alexandrian) calendars, and comments on the Persian, Roman, and Hebraic calendars. The work gives the names and lengths of the months in various calendars, explains the different methods for ascertaining the beginnings of years and months, discusses the signs of the zodiac and their relation to the four seasons, and describes the apparent motion of the sun ...
An Arabic Translation of the Astronomical Tables of Ulugh Beg
This manuscript contains a 15th–16th century translation from Persian into Arabic by Yaḥyā ibn Alī al-Rifā‘ī of the introduction of the celebrated zīj (astronomical tables or records of daily occurrences) by Ulugh Beg (1394–1449). In the introduction to his work, al-Rifā‘ī states that he undertook the project at the behest of Egyptian astronomer Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Abū al-Fatḥ al-Ṣūf ī al-Miṣrī (died circa 1494), who was involved in studying and revising Ulugh Beg's zīj for Cairo's geographical coordinates. The present manuscript copy of ...
The Book of Times
This is a manuscript copy of Kitāb al-Azmān (The book of times; also known as Kitāb al-Azmina) by Yuḥannā Ibn Māsawayh (died circa 857), the famous physician of the Abbasid era. The work belongs to the tradition of Islamic hemerology—the study of the calendar, especially with a view to discerning the auspiciousness of carrying out various actions at a given date or time. In his introduction, the author states: "The people of knowledge and philosophy and the physicians of Persia, India, and Rūm [Asia Minor], have said that the ...
Humorous Calendar for the New Year
Petko Rachov Slaveikov (1827–95) was one of the most renowned Bulgarian literary figures of the 19th century. He was a poet, publicist, translator, editor, dramatist, and folklorist. He believed fervently in the ideals of the National Revival movement and many of his works reflect his aspirations for the education of the Bulgarian people and for political and religious independence from the Ottoman Turks. Some of Slaveikov’s most popular works were his humorous calendars, which contained a variety of writing styles, including poems, amusing sketches, and horoscopes. These calendars ...
Bulgarian Folk Calendar for Leap Year 1868
Bulgarian Folk Calendar for Leap Year 1868 is one of a number of popular folk calendars produced by En’o Kŭrpachev (1833–1916), a publisher in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), during the National Revival era in Bulgaria. The first published Bulgarian calendar appeared in 1818. Over 100 of them were published during the National Revival era alone. The wave of popularity for Bulgarian calendars began in the 1840s and continued long past the end of the Revival period. Calendars were a popular genre of reading material in the 19th century, and ...
Small Treatise on the Calculation of Tables for the Construction of Inclined Sundials
The challenge of calculating the positions and movements of celestial bodies for the purpose of preparing astronomical tables helped to stimulate the development of very sophisticated mathematical tools at least as far back as the Middle Ages. The link between mathematics and astronomy was so strong that important authors in the field of astronomy were often distinguished mathematicians and vice versa. This was the case with Badr al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ġazal (1423–1506), also known as Sibt al-Māridīnī, who, according to contemporary sources, produced ...
The Book of the Hyacinths in the Knowledge of the Dates of the Year
Little is known about the author of the present work, al-Ḥusayn ibn Zayd ibn ʻAlī Ibn Jaḥḥāf, apart from what can be inferred from the brief dedicatory note at the beginning of the present manuscript. It states that the work was composed for the Faṭimid caliph al-Ḥākim bi-ʼAmr Allāh, who died during the first quarter of the 11th century. The Kitāb al-Yawāqīt fī maʻrifat al-mawāqīt (The book of the hyacinths in the knowledge of the dates of the year) is composed of 12 calendrical ...