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  • Author or Editor: Yoichi Isahaya x
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This paper deals with a section of a Persian astronomical work entitled Kashf al-ḥaqāʾiq-i zīj-i īlkhānī (Uncovering the truths of the Zīj-i īlkhānī) by Niẓām al-Dīn al-Nīsābūrī (d. ca. 1330) that includes some unique and exceptionally early materials on a Ptolemaic interpretation of Chinese astronomy. This work is a commentary on the Zīj-i īlkhānī (Īlkhānid astronomical handbook) by Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (1201–1274), the first Islamicate astronomical handbook (zīj) to make reference to a Chinese calendar. Although a certain resemblance has been noted between the zīj and the li (the Chinese astronomical system) in terms of content, a striking difference is apparent in their cosmologies. The former was based on the geometrical universe of western Eurasian astronomy, while the latter embodied the numerical cosmology of the eastern Eurasian tradition. In the Kashf al-ḥaqāʾiq, al-Nīsābūrī took a noteworthy approach to the Chinese calendar, especially in using a geometrical diagram to explain a numerical procedure in a section on the lunar anomaly. In other words, a fourteenth-century scholar in Iran interpreted one aspect of Chinese astronomy through Ptolemaic geometrical representation, of which Islamicate astronomers were masters. His diagram can be regarded as a nexus between the cosmologies of western and eastern Eurasia.

In: Overlapping Cosmologies In Asia
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While there is no consensus as to when the Marāgha observatory, centre of a Eurasian-scale intellectual network, ceased to function, given that no historical sources mention such a date, by focusing more on the Īl-Khānid political context than on the scientific activities at the observatory that have so far attracted scholarly attention, I argue that the termination of the observatory’s activity overlapped with the downfall of Aṣīl al-Dīn b. Naṣīr al-Dīn (d. ca. 1317) in 1309/10. Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (1201–1274) acquired the office of trustee of the waqf endowments for the observatory. This office was inherited after his death by his sons. However, the family property related to the religious endowments was targeted, which resulted in the family’s fall. Thereafter, the eighth īl-khān, Öljeitü (r.1304–1316), did not station his mobile court in Marāgha, which marked a shift of the intellectual centre of the Īl-Khānid dynasty away from the observatory.

In: Crossroads