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 al-Mutawakkil). Al-Farghānī, the name by which the astronomer would have been known at the Abbasid court, and which was Latinized to Alfraganus, indicates the Ferghana Valley (present-day Uzbekistan) as his birthplace, in the Persian or Perso-Turkic cultural realm of Central Asia. Presented here is an Arabic edition with 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). The Arabic title in this edition is slightly modified. The same work by al-Farghānī has various other titles in Arabic, including Kitāb fī uṣūl ‘ilm al-nujūm (Book of generalities of astronomy and bases of celestial motions) and Kitāb al-hay’a fī fuṣūl al-thalāthīn (Book on the configuration [of the heavenly spheres] in thirty chapters). The work was originally translated into Latin by Johannes Hispalensis (John of Seville, flourished mid-12th century), and Gerard of Cremona (circa 1114–87). It was also translated into Hebrew by Jacob Anatoli (circa 1194–1256). This is the first printed Arabic edition of the book, based on the manuscript at the University of Leiden, printed in Amsterdam in 1669. It has 109 pages in Arabic and 306 in Latin, in addition to the table of contents.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Johannes Janssonius van Waesberge and Vidua Elizei Weyerstraet, Amsterdam

Title in Original Language

كتاب محمد بن كثير الفرغاني في الحركة السماوية وجوامع علم النجوم بتفسير الشيخ الفاضل يعقوب غوليوس

Type of Item

Physical Description

565 pages ; 20 centimeters

Last updated: June 17, 2014