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Brentjes, Sonja

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Sonja Brentjes

This paper raises the question as to what role teaching (teachers, teaching material, orality, students) played in intellectual activities and the codification of those activities into texts and manuscripts with respect to the mathematical sciences and natural philosophy in third/ninth-century Baghdad. This issue is approached via the question of how extant works of that period, which are predominantly seen by modern historians of science either as translations or as newly composed research works, can be identified as having had a teaching function. The question of relevance, organization, and content of teaching in the highly innovative context of the mathematical sciences and natural philosophy of the third/ninth century is historiographically significant beyond the recovery of historical details about texts and their character.

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Sonja Brentjes

Abstract

In this paper I argue that none of the sources produced by European visitors to Safavid Iran are unmediated, immediate expressions of observations, experiences, emotions and descriptions of the country's nature and culture. I offer as evidence different kinds of textual sources created by four travelers in the early seventeenth century, maps of Iran produced in various European cities and prints and engravings made by artists. I show that partly contradictory discourses governed these textual and visual representations of Iran and that particularities of each kind shaped the practices and norms of the creation of its individual representatives.

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Sonja Brentjes

This paper raises the question as to what role teaching (teachers, teaching material, orality, students) played in intellectual activities and the codification of those activities into texts and manuscripts with respect to the mathematical sciences and natural philosophy in third/ninth-century Baghdad. This issue is approached via the question of how extant works of that period, which are predominantly seen by modern historians of science either as translations or as newly composed research works, can be identified as having had a teaching function. The question of relevance, organization, and content of teaching in the highly innovative context of the mathematical sciences and natural philosophy of the third/ninth century is historiographically significant beyond the recovery of historical details about texts and their character.

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Volkmar Schüller and Sonja Brentjes

Abstract

This article argues that Pietro della Valle's Latin geography of the Safavid Empire is important for taking a middle ground between two common tendencies of early modern authors in Catholic and Protestant Europe when writing about Western Asia and Northern Africa. While cartographers and mapmakers—in Venice, Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Paris—privileged new information (from travelers) in their choice of place names, those who wrote on the history or geography of these regions often suppressed local knowledge, giving preference to terms from ancient Greek and Latin history and geography, enriched by reference to the Bible. Della Valle, while traveling in Ottoman and Safavid territories, made intensive efforts to learn major local languages and acquire information about contemporary political, cultural, and physical geography, as documented in his diary and the original copies of his letters written during the long years of travel. The approach he takes in his geography of the Safavid Empire is thus close to choices made by the cartographers and mapmakers.