Scientific Instruments between East and West


Scientific Instruments between East and West is a collection of essays on aspects of the transmission of knowledge about scientific instruments and the trade in such instruments between the Eastern and Western worlds, particularly from Europe to the Ottoman Empire. The contributors, from a variety of countries, draw on original Arabic and Ottoman Turkish manuscripts and other archival sources and publications dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries not previously studied for their relevance to the history of scientific instruments. This little-studied topic in the history of science was the subject of the 35th Scientific Instrument Symposium held in Istanbul in September 2016, where the original versions of these essays were delivered.

Contributors are Mahdi Abdeljaouad, Pierre Ageron, Hamid Bohloul, Patrice Bret, Gaye Danışan, Feza Günergun, Meltem Kocaman, Richard L. Kremer, Janet Laidla, Panagiotis Lazos, David Pantalony, Atilla Polat, Bernd Scholze, Konstantinos Skordoulis, Seyyed Hadi Tabatabaei, Anthony Turner, Hasan Umut, and George Vlahakis.

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Biographical Note

Neil Brown has a BSc in Physics and an MSc in the History of Technology, and spent most of his working life at the Science Museum in London, curating a wide range of physical science and engineering artefacts.

Silke Ackermann (PhD), studied History, Languages and Cultures of the Orient, and History of Science. She has been the Director of the History of Science Museum in Oxford since 2014 following sixteen years in a variety of curatorial and managerial roles at the British Museum.

Feza Günergun has a BSc in Chemical Engineering, and a PhD in the History of Medicine. She is the Head of the Department of the History of Science (Istanbul University) and the editor of the journal Osmanlı Bilimi Araştırmaları ( Studies in Ottoman Science).

Table of contents

List of Figures and Tables
Note on Contributors

1. A Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Compendium of Astronomical Instruments: Seydi Ali’s Mir’at-ı Kainat
Gaye Danışan

2. Eastern and Western Instruments in Osman Efendi’s Hadiyyat al-Muhtadī (The Gift of the Convert), 1779
Mahdi Abdeljaouad and Pierre Ageron

3. Treatises on Pergar-ı Nisbe (the Sector) in Manuscript Collections in Turkey
Atilla Polat

4. Measuring Altitudes with an Alla Franca Instrument: The Ottoman Engineer Feyzi’s Treatise on the Portable Sextant
Feza Günergun, Gaye Danışan and Atilla Polat

5. How did the Turketum (or Torquetum) get its Name?
Richard L. Kremer

6. Mingling of Traditions: Aspects of Dialling in Islam
Anthony Turner

7. Kāshānī’s Equatorium: Employing Different Plates for Determining Planetary Longitudes
Hamid Bohloul

8. The Introduction of the Telescope into Iran before the Nineteenth Century
Seyyed Hadi Tabatabaei

9. Hugo Masing’s Golitsyn-Vilip Seismographs: From Tartu to Five Continents
Janet Laidla

10. Instruments and Laboratories in the Schools of the Greek Community of Istanbul, 1850-1960
Panagiotis Lazos, George Vlahakis and Konstantinos Skordoulis

11. From the Ottoman Empire to Canada: George Petrovic’s Metrological Instruments in the Canada Science and Technology Museum
Hasan Umut and David Pantalony

12. Instruments of Knowledge and Power in a Colonial Context: Scientific Instruments during the French Occupation of Egypt, 1798-1801
Patrice Bret

13. The Magic Lantern as an Ambassador between Cultures and Religions: Imrich Emanuel Roth and the First Dissolving View Shows in the Ottoman Empire, 1845-1846
Bernd Scholze

14. Scientific Instrument Retailers in Istanbul in the Nineteenth Century, and Verdoux’s Optical Shop
Meltem Kocaman



Historians of Science and others with an interest in scientific instruments, and historians and others interested in the relationships between Eastern and Western worlds of science.

Index Card