Position of Anonymous Arabic Scientific Witnesses in Their Codices

Taro Mimura

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin has a huge collection of Arabic manuscripts, of which catalogue was composed by Ahlwardt. He divides the codices into works (i.e. witnesses) and classified them according to their subjects. Consequently, he achieved to show this collection as containing numerous witnesses on various fields, of which almost 800 witnesses were on science.One would find from Ahlwardt’s catalogue that several witnesses are missing the names of authors. For example, among 86 witnesses on astronomical instruments, 35 witnesses lack explicit indications of their authors. Although modern scholars, including Ahlwardt, have identified some of these authors by analyzing the contents of witnesses, 15 witnesses are still left anonymous. Such anonymity is obviously problematic when attempting to locate these witnesses on a timeline.Anonymity, however, does not imply random choices by the copyists; in fact these anonymous witnesses seem to be chosen deliberately by the copyists of the codices containing them, for their significances in the codices. For example, Codex Landberg 390 contains nine witnesses, of which two are by anonymous authors and the rest composed by seven different authors. In terms of their contents, seven witnesses, including the anonymous two, deal with the subject of how to use quadrant. This implies that the copyist selected the works of several authors about the same topic in order to achieve a thorough understanding.In my presentation, I intend to locate some anonymous Arabic scientific witnesses of this collection in their codices, and reveal their significance to their copyists, thereby demonstrating the importance of these anonymous witnesses in the history of Islamic science.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventThe Eighth Islamic Manuscript Conference The Science of Manuscripts; Manuscripts of Science - Cambrudge
Duration: 1 Jan 1824 → …


ConferenceThe Eighth Islamic Manuscript Conference The Science of Manuscripts; Manuscripts of Science
Period1/01/24 → …


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