Skip to main content

IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 237: Entanglements by Numbers: Networks of Astronomy and Mathematics

Monday 3 July 2023, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Michaela Wiesinger, Institut für Germanistik, Universität Wien
Paper 237-aThe Destombes Astrolabe: A Mozarabic Copy from 10th-Century al-Andalus
(Language: English)
Thomas Freudenhammer, Independent Scholar, Berlin
Index terms: Epigraphy, Islamic and Arabic Studies, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Science
Paper 237-bLost in Translation: The Arabic, Latin, and Hebrew Versions of Pseudo-Euclid's Book of Mirrors
(Language: English)
Sabine Arndt, Institut für Jüdische Studien Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Index terms: Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Language and Literature - Semitic, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Science
Paper 237-cNetworks and Constellations: A Tentative Approach of Data Visualisation of Parisian Astronomical Works and Manuscripts, 13th-14th Centuries
(Language: English)
Sophie Serra, Centre Pierre Abélard, Université Paris IV - Sorbonne
Index terms: Computing in Medieval Studies, Manuscripts and Palaeography, Science

Paper a:
The Destombes astrolabe is considered the oldest astrolabe with Latin inscriptions. The instrument is obviously a 'translation' of an Arabic original from Muslim Spain. Palaeographic studies have interpreted it as a work of 10th-century Catalonia. A Visigothic character on the mater of the astrolabe, however, rather suggests that it was produced by a Mozarab in al-Andalus. Further studies show that the Arabic original that served as the basis for the Latin copy must have been made in the middle of the 10th century in al-Andalus, modelled on the Oriental astrolabes. The display of higher latitudes as well as the inscription Roma et Francia place the Destombes astrolabe in the context of contemporary diplomatic missions and commercial journeys that were dispatched from al-Andalus to Francia.

Paper -b:
The Book of Mirrors by Euclid is an anonymous Arabic compilation of problems in mathematical optics that can be traced back to Greek and Arabic sources. Its Latin and Hebrew translations enjoyed great popularity in the Latin West. In this paper, I explore the transmission history of the text and its accompanying diagrams. While both the Hebrew and the Latin versions seem to be word-for-word translations of the Arabic original, it is especially the mistakes they display, in both text and diagrams, that suggest these versions are closer connected than two independent translations of the same original would normally be.

Paper -c:
In Paris, the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries was a decisive moment for astronomy, which still has many grey areas. Indeed, around 1272, innovative astronomical tables and canons were produced under the patronage of Alfonso X of Castile. After an eclipse of 50 years, Alphonsine astronomy re-emerged in astronomical works in Paris in the 1320s and quickly made its mark. Though a lot of work has been done on Alphonsine astronomy recently, Parisian astronomical works produced between 1280 and 1330 still need to be investigated, as well as their authors. The aim of my work is a tentative reconstruction of constellations of these intellectual constellations.

I have been aiming at contributing to a better understanding of the Parisian astronomy community at this significant time. Alongside more traditional methods, I built up a database, which I decided to transform into network visualisations using Gephi software in order to subject it to a complementary statistical study. I used a partly stabilised dataset of 319 manuscripts, 191 libraries and 157 works to create four network visualisations, with the aim of highlighting several distinct phenomena related to: 1. Dissemination of Alphonsine/not-Alphonsine works 3. Type of work distinctions 3. Manuscripts network 4. Disciplinary trends in those. This paper presents some preliminary results from these visualisations, but also provides an opportunity to reflect on the use and interpretation of network visualisation tools.