Posted by Josefina Rodríguez Arribas
Our group of research organized a Symposium related to Jewish astrolabes in the International Conference of the European Society of History of Science in Athens (1-3 November 2012). Several experts in the fields of astrolabes and medieval astronomy, astrology, and calendar were invited to present papers about their fields. This is the program:
The scientific culture of medieval Jews: facts and questions
This symposium considered what role science played in the culture of the Jews of the Middle Ages in the Islamic and Western European contexts. It focused on astronomy: the use of astrolabes and other astronomical instruments, the texts composed on their manufacture and use, the composition of astronomical tables, the writing of theoretical works on astronomy and cosmology, and the application of astronomy to the practice of astrology. The social and religious context of this pursuit of science was explored.
1 Tzvi Langermann: Abraham Bar Hiyya’s Megilat ha-Megalleh: An Early Integration of Philosophy, Astrology, and Theology
2 Shlomo Sela: Abraham Ibn Ezra and the Astrolabe
3 Charles Burnett: Abraham Ibn Ezra’s Latin-Reading Pupils
4 Sreeramula Sarma: Asturlâb and Yantrarâja: Two Parallel Traditions of the Astrolabe in India
5 Josefina Rodríguez Arribas: Hebrew Manuscripts on the Astrolabe: a Preliminary Overview
6 Ilana Wartenberg: Mathematical Elements in the Jewish Calendar
During our stay in Athens there was plenty of time for reading and listening to papers, meeting scholars of all around the world, and participating in interesting discussions. The picture below shows the scholars of our session before Heinrich Schliemann’s house in Athens just on our way to the conference dinner.
From left to right: Charles Burnett, Sreeramula Sarma and his wife Renata, Ilana Wartenberg, Johannes Thomann, Shlomo Sela and his wife Leah.
Below, part of our group in the site of the Academy of Plato.
What an opportunity to see the Antikythera mechanism!
Is there any relationship between the Antikythera mechanism and astrolabes?
Both are astronomical devices with origins in Greek antiquity, but are quite different in purpose. The Antikythera device is a complex geared mechanism which certainly displayed the motions of the Sun and Moon and quite likely the motions of the other planets. An astrolabe mimics the appearance of the sky and has uses such as telling the time from the observed positions of sun and stars.