Science, Technology and Learning in the Ottoman Empire: Western Influence, Local Institutions, and the Transfer of Knowledge, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Science, Technology and Learning in the Ottoman Empire

Western Influence, Local Institutions, and the Transfer of Knowledge, 1st Edition

By Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu


352 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780860789246
pub: 2004-02-06

FREE Standard Shipping!


The aim of these studies is to explore the scientific activity and learning that took place within the Ottoman empire, a subject often neglected by both historians of science and of the Ottoman world. Professor Ihsanoglu has been a pioneer in this field. In several papers he analyses the continuing tradition of Arabic science inherited by the Ottomans, together with the contributions made by the conquered Christian and incoming Jewish populations. The main focus, however, is upon the Ottoman reaction to, accommodation with, and eventual acceptance of the Western scientific tradition. Setting this in the context of contemporary cultural and political life, the author examines existing institutions of learning and the spread of ’Western-style’ scientific and learned societies and institutions, and charts the adoption of the ideas and methods of Western science and technology. Two case studies look in particular at astronomy and at the introduction of aviation.


'They show just how original and monumental is [Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu's] contribution to our understanding of science in the Ottoman Empire.' Nature 'Ihsanoglu's essays on the Ottoman scientific tradition and its encounters with modern European science should be read by all scholars and students interested in the relationship between diverse global cultures and the transnational history of science and technology.' Technology and Culture 'This collection of twelve essays by the world's leading scholar in Ottoman science is an important contribution to our understanding of the scientific activities that were carried out during the six-century history of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923). Indeed, it may be said to be an essential work inasmuch as its corrects and supersedes the earlier works of A. Adnan Adivar and Aydin Sayili.' Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences 'Ihsanoglu's overall message is stimulating. His work expands our knowledge of Ottoman scientific and technological interaction with Europe and, more crucially, it invites new ways of looking at a complex history.' BJHS

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Some remarks on Ottoman science and its relation with European science & technology up to the end of the 18th century; The introduction of western science to the Ottoman world: a case study of modern astronomy (1660-1860); Ottoman science: the last episode in the Islamic scientific tradition and the beginning of the European scientific tradition; Bashoca Ishak Efendi pioneer of modern science in Turkey; Some critical notes on the introduction of modern sciences to the Ottoman state and the relation between science and religion up to the end of the 19th century; The initial stage of the historiography of Ottoman Medreses (1916-65), the era of discovery and construction; The genesis of 'Darulfünun': an overview of attempts to establish the first Ottoman university; The group of scholars known as members of Besiktas Cemiyet-i Ilmiyyesi (Besiktas Learned Society); Genesis of learned societies and professional associations in Ottoman Turkey; Modernization efforts in science, technology and industry in the Ottoman Empire (18-19th centuries); Aviation: the last episode in the Ottoman transfer of western technology; Modern Turkey and the Ottoman legacy; Index.

About the Author

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu is Director General of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture, Istanbul, and President of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science, Division of History of Science

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

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General