Babylonian and Indian Wisdoms in Islamicate Culture

In: Oriens
Y. Tzvi Langermann Bar Ilan University Department of Arabic

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The interaction of Islamicate civilization with those civilizations that preceded it or were contemporaneous with it has focused for the most part on Hellenistic civilization, and the huge body of scientific and philosophical literature which was translated and absorbed in the first centuries after the appearance of Islam. This paper aims to present two small but much needed correctives to this understanding. In the first section I argue that the “Greek” astronomy that was translated into Arabic ought more correctly to be described as Greco-Babylonian astronomy. In the second I turn to India: not only was a great deal of Indian knowledge absorbed at the time of the great translation movement, we must recall that the exchanges with India carried on well beyond the early Abbasids. I illustrate these points with some new materials in the fields of medicine, philosophy, and alchemy.

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