World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


ISLAMIC SCIENCE- HOMAGE TO PROFESSOR MERCÈ COMES - 3/3: Science in Medieval Aarabic-Islamic Societies: Achievements and Prospects (251) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: WED 21, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: University of Barcelona, Dep. of Semitic Philology (Spain)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Miquel Forcada Nogués

· NOT_DEFINED sponsor: Commission on History of Science and Technology in Islamic Societies (Division of History of Science and Technology of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science)

· NOT_DEFINED language: English, Français

· NOT_DEFINED description: The scientific and technological legacy of Islamic societies, which constitutes one of the most brilliant chapters in the history of human civilization, has been the studied by a large number of scholars from all around the world since the 19th century. Their research has not only given a good account of multifarious areas encompassed within the field of History of Arabic-Islamic Science and Technology but also placed this legacy in the rank that the extent of its contribution gives it the right to occupy. Notwithstanding the progress made, particularly during the last decades of the 20th century, there is much still to accomplish. On the one hand, the intrinsic importance the Islamic contribution to science and technology is not always acknowledged as it should be and sometimes it is the target of deliberate attempts to underrate its historical role. On the other, the vast majority of the scientific sources written in Arabic or in any other Islamic language remains unedited, all too often unstudied and sometimes even unexplored.
The Commission on History of Science and Technology in Islamic Societies (within the Division of History of Science and Technology of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science), as one of the most important world organizations devoted to the study of these matters, would like to review the most salient results achieved in recent time by scholarly research, as well as to discuss which are be the most promising areas for future research and the measures that could be adopted in order to foster it and to promote the knowledge of the scientific legacy of Muslim societies. A panel of renowned specialists of the Commission will speak about their particular areas so as to provide with a wide perspective of the ongoing and future state of affairs of the History of Science and Technology in Islamic Societies.

Chair: Jan Hogendijk, University of Utrecht

Discussant: Miquel Forcada Nogués, University of Barcelona, Dep. of Semitic Philology

Paper presenter: Cristina Álvarez Millán, UNED, “Medieval Islamic Medicine: Research, Prospects and Proposals”
In tune with changes experienced in the history of medicine over the last three decades, research on medieval Islamic medicine has progressively incorporated a number of historical sources as well as new historiographical and methodological trends. This paper will analyse the varying lines of research and topics developed in the recent past and, more particularly, those that would need to be addressed in the future, either individually or as part of collective projects. Some of these are the edition of unpublished texts, the translation into English of well-known medical works only available in Arabic, the analysis of literary traditions within given medical genres, the updating of M. Ulmann’s and F. Sezgin’s works published forty years ago, codicology as source of information for the history of medieval Islamic medicine, social history of medicine, medieval Islamic medicine and cultural history, Islamic medical texts as source for the history of sexuality and women studies, and the need of publications addressed to a non-especialized reader so as to divulge recent research on a highly idealized topic.

Paper presenter: Emilia Calvo, University of Barcelona, “The Research of Astronomical Activities in Islam: Achievements, Current State and Prospects.”
Research from the last few decades has changed our understanding of the astronomical activities carried out in Arabic throughout the Islamic civilization along the Middle Ages. We now know that these activities were richer and involved aspects more diverse than we had previously thought. They also involved complex relations to other cultures that are currently being studied in more depth. Among the fields involved we can mention timekeeping (mīqāt), astronomical instruments, cosmological theory, cross-cultural transmission, for instance the transformation of Greek, Indian or Persian astronomy or the transmission of astronomical knowledge from East to West but also from West to East. Probably one of the most interesting aspects of this field studied in the last decades is the transmission of astronomical knowledge, either from one culture to another or within the medieval Islamic world. In all these fields there are still some unsolved problems that need to be addressed in future research. The aim of the paper is to give an overview of the achievements, current state and prospects of the research in the field of historical investigation of astronomy in Islam.

Paper presenter: Mohammed El Faïz, Université de Marrakech, “L’héritage agronomique arabe et son apport à la civilisation de la Méditerranée”
On a souvent considéré le Monde Arabe médiéval comme une civilisation marchande et urbaine. Cependant, peut on envisager le développement des villes sans prendre en considération les transformations issues de la « révolution agricole » et qui ont constitué un fait majeur au Moyen Age? Après avoir identifié les sources agronomique arabes et montré leur importance, nous parlerons de l’apport de l’agronomie arabe à la civilisation de la Méditerranée.

Paper presenter: Jan P. Hogendijk, University of Urtecht, “Mathematics”
I will begin this talk by mentioning some important texts and other sourmaterials in medieval Islamic mathematics which have been published in recent years. Then I
will turn to differences in interpretation. Some modern researchers have studied mathematics in medieval Islamic civilization in various cultural and scientific contexts. Other historians interpret the mathematics which we find in the medieval sources in terms of its ahistorical relationships with modern mathematics.