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750-1258 ABBASID ERA

The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad caliphate, which had spread Islam through Asia, the Middle East, north Africa and the Iberian peninsula. The Abbasids moved the caliphate's capital from Damascus to Baghdad. This was a particularly productive period for science in Islamic history.

c.721- c.813 Jabir ibn Hayyan

Works attributed to this alchemist had lasting influence in Europe until the sixteenth century. Many words in chemistry have Arabic roots including alkali (al-qaliy) and alcohol (al-kohl).

c.830-1258 House of Wisdom, Baghdad

Activities at this library and research centre included translation of Greek works into Arabic by both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. Free public libraries later spread to other cities.

c.780- c.840 Al-Khwarizmi

Mathematician who gave his name to 'algorithm'. Latin translations of his books introduced algebra (derived from al-jabr) to Europe.

c.865- c.926 Al-Razi (Rhazes)

Persian who contributed to medicine, alchemy and philosophy. He formulated the first known description of smallpox, which the Ancient Greeks had confused with measles.

c.965- c.1039 Ibn al- Haytham (Alhazen)

Basra-born researcher in astronomy, mathematics and optics who helped to develop the camera obscura. He refuted Greek models of vision, arguing instead that vision is the result of images being formed, and provided better descriptions of the eye.

980-1037 Ibn Sina (Avicenna)

Persian physician and philosopher from Bukhara. The Latin translation of his Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (The Canon of Medicine) was a highly regarded medical text in Europe until the sixteenth century.

1126-1198 Ibn Rushd (AverroŽs)                                                                                               Spanish-born Islamic philosopher who tried to reconcile the contradictions between aristotelian ideas of studying nature through observation and reason, and religious truth. His writings and translations had considerable influence in Europe.

c.1259- c.1304 Maragha Observatory

One of the top three observatories in the Islamic world, this was built in Maragha in modern-day Iran. Astronomy was highly valued, partly for accurately predicting prayer-times and the Islamic lunar month. Maragha had a library of 400,000 books and a school of astronomy.

1201-1274 Nasir al-Din al-Tusi

Persian astronomer, mathematician and astrologer who worked at the Maragha Observatory. He introduced the 'Tusi couple', allowing Islamic scholars to greatly improve ptolomeic models of planetary motion.

1213-1288 Ibn al-Nafis

Damascus-born physician who worked in Cairo hospitals and produced the first recorded explanation of pulmonary circulation. But the mechanism remained largely unknown until William Harvey's work in the early 1600s.

1281-1923 OTTOMAN ERA

The Ottoman Empire spread from Anatolia into north Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and eastern and southern Europe.

1284 Al-Mansuri / Qalawun hospital, Cairo

Specialized institutions that treated disease for free and conducted research took root under Islamic rule, building on Roman efforts. The hospitals in Cairo and in Baghdad had wards for different illnesses. Clinicians took detailed case notes, which were collated into teaching manuals.

c.1304-1375 Ibn al-Shatir

Damascus-born astronomer and mathematician who developed new models of the Moon and planetary motion that eliminated problems with Greek models. Aspects of his work are identical to that produced by Copernicus.

1332-1406 Ibn Khaldun

Tunisian-born historian regarded as one of the first sociologists. His book, Muqaddimah, which is still in print, tries to explain why societies and economies change.


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