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The Maragha Observatory Comples as a Locus of Tajriba
Abstract. The observatory at Maragha, founded by the orders of the first Ilkhan of Iran Hülegü Khan, is generally considered a major scientific enterprise of the period. We know it was functional in the latter period of the thirteenth century, it was tasked with producing an updated set of Astronomical Tables (Zīj-i Ilkhani) for the purpose of astrological prognostication, and that it employed mathematicians and astronomers from across the Islamic World. What else can be said about the Maragha observatory and what sources do we have at hand? The Zīj itself has survived; we also have descriptions of the observational instruments built for or used at the observatory; and archaeological studies of the site of the observatory have uncovered more about the buildings at the site. Yet, many details about the day to day scientific activities conducted at the complex or the nature and extent of the scholarly activities at the observatory are not yet fully understood. In this talk we will cast a new look at the scholarly make up of the observatory and try to understand how it operated, the extent of scholarly activities it hosted and the role of experimentation in its roster of activities, and how it functioned as an observatory in the empirical sense. Based on a variety of sources I will draw a picture of the various types of day to day activities at the observatory complex and examine the role of ‘experiment’ in that context.
Geographic Area
Central Asia
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