18 October, 2009

Inside the House

So, what might be found inside the House of Wisdom? I am now officially half way through the book and can say with some certainty that there are many interesting books contained within. These books include:

The Book of Addition and Subtraction According to the Hindu Calculation ~ al-Khwarizmi

The Book of Restoring and Balancing (aka Kitab al-jabr wa'l-muqabala) ~ al-Khwarizmi

The Determination of the Coordinates of Cities ~ al-Biruni (use of spherical trigonometry)

Canon of Medicine ~ Ibn Sina (Avicenna)

The Book of Roads and Kingdoms ~ Ibn Khordadbeh

The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions ~ al-Muqaddasi

Amusements for Those Who Long to Traverse the Horizon (aka Kitab Rujar)~ al-Idrisi

With the exception of the first two, these books are primarily on the broad subject of geography. Human geography (ethnography) seems to be one of the driving forces behind much of the geographical work done during this time (9th-11th centuries and beyond). There is also much use of the scientific method (Question, Research, Hypothesize, Experiment, Analyze, Report), which has its roots to the Arab's quest for knowledge.

It is also fair to say that much of this quest for knowledge - an intellectual revolution, if you will - is based in religion and not just learning. Going back to the astronomy/astrology of a previous post, it was - and is - important to know precisely when the "call to prayer" takes place. This lead to the quest for precise measurements in time further leading to more accuracy in locations around the "known world".

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