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Sunday, 25 May 2008

SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE IN THE MIDDLE AGES

By the tenth century, the intellectual superiority of the Arabs (Muslims) was recognized in Europe. Pope Sylvester II (Gerbert, d. 1003 AD)was the first Christian to take up the torch of learning. He introduced the Arab astronomy and mathematics, and Arabic numerals in place of the clumsy Roman ones followed by many, especially Constantinus Africanus in the eleventh century, and Bishop Raymond (Raimundo) in the twelfth century. Toledo became a center for the transmission of Arabic (Islamic) culture and science to Europe early on eleventh century . A number of translators flourished there. Among the scholars, who flocked to it from all over Europe, were Gerard of Cremona (1117- 1187) and John of Seville. Other famous translators were Adelard of Bath, Robert of Chester, Michael Scot, Stephenson of Saragossa, William of Lunis and Philip of Tripoli. Primarily Latin and some into Hebrew was the early translations. Subsequent translations were done from Latin or Hebrew into vernacular languages of Europe.

Many translators at Toledo had neither command over the Arabic language nor sufficient knowledge of the subject matter. They translated word for word and, where they failed to understand, Latinized the Arabic words. Under the supervision of Archdeacon Domenico Gundisalvi, and with the cooperation of the Hebrew Johannes ben David, the school of the Archbishop of Toledo rendered into Latin a large number of Arabic works on science and philosophy.

Gerard, who reminded Hunayn ibn Ishaq of Toledo, translated into Latin more than seventy Arabic books on different subjects. He was born in 1114 in Cremona, Italy. He went to Toledo, Spain to learn Arabic so he could translate available Arabic works into Latin. Gerard remained there for the rest of his life and died in 1187 in Toledo, Spain (Andalusia). Gerard's name is sometimes written as Gherard. Among his translations were the surgical part of Al-Tasrif of Al-zahravi (Albucasis), the Kitab al-Mansuri of AL-Razi (Rhazes) and the Qanun of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Banu Musa's works, Al-Biruni's commentry on Al-Khawarizmi (after whom concept "Algorithm" is named), the tables of Jabir b. Aflah and Zarqali. John of Seville under the patronage of Raymond translated several works of Avicenna, Qusta Ibn Luqa and Al-Faraghni.

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