Astronomy and Astrology in al-Andalus and the Maghrib: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Astronomy and Astrology in al-Andalus and the Maghrib

1st Edition

By Julio Samsó


382 pages

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This new volume of papers by Julio Samsó deals with the development of astronomy and astrology in al-Andalus and the Maghrib between the 10th and the 19th centuries. Opening with a survey of the social history of the exact sciences in al-Andalus, the book then looks at astronomical tables: the first stages of the introduction of al-Khwarizmi's and al-Battani's tables through the school of Maslama al-Majriti, the development of Ibn al-Zarqalluh/ Azarquiel's theories in Maghribi zijes (Ibn al-Banna' and Ibn Azzuz) and the abandonment of this tradition towards the end of the 14th century. From this period onwards new Eastern zijes (Muhyi al-Din al-Maghribi, Ibn al-Shatir, Ulugh Beg) are introduced in the Maghrib and, towards the beginning of the 17th century, a translation of Abraham Zacut and José Vizinho's Almanach Perpetuum (end of the 15th century) becomes well known in the whole Islamic world, from Morocco to the Yemen. As well as zijes themselves, the author also deals with theoretical astronomy (the use of an elliptical deferent for Mercury in Ibn al-Zarqalluh's equatorium and the criticisms of Ibn al-Haytham and Jabir b. Aflah on Ptolemy's determination of the parameters of the same planet), and with the use of zijes for the calculation of horoscopes, and an experimental astrological method for the correction of mean motion planetary tables (Ibn Azzuz).


’Thanks to Variorum, the work of historians such as Julio Samsó, who study mainly, but not exclusively, the history of Islamic exact sciences in the western part of the Islamic world and who usually publish in diversified journals and collected works scattered all over the world, can now be made more accessible between the covers of one book. This book in particular is an added blessing, for it not only brings together some of the more specialized articles of Professor Samsó but also includes an updated bibliography in the form of additions and corrections, a detailed general index, and most importantly an index of sexagesimal parameters.’ Journal for the History of Astronomy ’This interesting collection of articles is the second, and very welcome, volume of Samsó's papers in the Variorum series.’ Aestimatio 'This collection of papers by an eminent authority on the history of mathematics and astronomy in medieval Andalusia and the Maghreb will be a welcome addition to the library of all scholars with a serious interest in this area. … Both Professor Samsó and the publisher deserve our thanks for making this work available to scholars of medieval Islamic astronomy.' Journal of Islamic Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Part 1 Al-Andalus: A social approximation to the history of the exact sciences in al-Andalus; Maslama al-Majriti and the star table in the treatise De mensura astrolabii; 7 chapters of Ibn al-Saffar's lost zij (with M. Castells); Ibn al-Zarqalluh on Mercury (with H. Mielgo); World astrology in 11th-century al-Andalus: the epistle on tasyir and the projection of rays by al-Istijji (with H.Berrani); 'Al-Biruni' in al-Andalus; Ibn al-Haytham and Jabir b. Aflah's criticism of Ptolemy's determination of the parameters of Mercury. Part 2 The Maghrib: The computation of planetary longitudes in the zij of Ibn al-Banna (with E. Millás); Andalusian astronomy in 14th-century Fez: al-Zij al-Muwafiq of Ibn Azzuz al-Qusantini; Horoscopes and history: Ibn Azzuz and his retrospective horoscopes related to the battle of El Salado (1340); An outline of the history of Maghribi zijes from the end of the 13th century; Astronomical observations in the Maghrib in the 14th and 15th centuries; On the lunar tables in Sanjaq Dar's Zij al-Sharif. Part 3 The Introduction of Alfonsine Astronomy in the Arab World through the Arabic Translations of Zacut's Almanach Perpetuum: Abraham Zacut and José Vizinho's Almanach Perpetuum in Arabic (16th-19th centuries); On the Arabic translation of the colophon of the Almanach Perpetuum; In pursuit of Zacut's Almanach Perpetuum in the eastern Islamic world; Addenda et corrigenda; Indexes.

About the Author

Julio Samsó is Professor in the Department of Arabic, University of Barcelona, Spain.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Social History