Iran cradle of science

IRNA News Agency  12/22/2013
Iran cradle of science
There is not much information about the evolution of science in Iran in ancient times. It is, however, established that science and knowledge progressed during the Sassanid rule (226-652 AD) when great attention was paid to mathematics and astronomy.



The existence of astronomical Shahriyar Tables and observatories, later emulated by Muslim astrologers and astronomers, prove the importance of astronomy in Iran during the Sassanid Dynasty, Cais-Soas reported.


In books written in Pahlavi languages, one encounters references to scientific subjects such as natural science, mathematics and astronomy.


The medical and veterinary essays, prescriptions and expressions mentioned in “Dinkart” (from the Sassanid period) are very interesting.


Some medical books later translated into Arabic were initially compiled in the Syrian or Pahlavi languages by Iranian scholars.


Among such books are books on veterinary, agriculture, diseases and treatment of gab-birds, training and education of children.


Knowledge in Sassanid Era

In the mid-Sassanid era, a strong wave of knowledge came to Iran from the west in the form of views and traditions of Greece which, following the spread of Christianity, accompanied Syriac, the official language of Christians as well as the Iranian Nestorian script.


The Christian schools in Iran have produced great scientists such as Nersi, Farhad and Marabai. Also, a book is attributed to Paulus Persa, the head of the Iranian Department of Logic and Philosophy of Aristotle, written in Syriac and dictated to Sassanid King Anushiravan.


Other great teachers have emerged from similar theological and scientific schools, including Ibrahim Madi, Hibai, Marbab Jondishapouri and Paulus of Karkhe Jondishapour was a town located east of Susa, southeast of Dezful and northwest of Shoushtar.


During the Sassanid period, Jondishapour became a center of medical science and its fame lasted for several centuries even after the advent of Islam in Iran.


A fortunate incident for pre-Islamic Iranian science during the Sassanid period was the arrival of eight eminent scholars from Greece who sought refuge in Iran from the persecution of Roman Emperor Justinian.


These men were the followers of neoplatonic school. King Anushiravan had many discussions with these men, especially with the one named Priscianus.


A summary of these discussions was compiled in a book entitled “Solution to the Problems of Khosrow, the King of Persia,” which is now in the Saint Germain Library of Paris.


These discussions touched on several subjects, such as philosophy, physiology, metabolisms, natural science and astronomy.


Philosophy of Islamic Period

After the establishment of Umayyad and Abbasid states, many Iranian scholars were sent to the capitals of these Muslim dynasties.


The philosophy of the Islamic period was influenced by Greece, India and apparently Iran in the pre-Islamic period.


Ibn Khorram writes in his book “Al Melal Val Nehal” that Muhammad bin Zakaria Razi took from ancient Iran’s five principles.


The same is mentioned by Masoudi in his book “Morouj Az-Zahab.” Shahabeddin Sohrevardi in the preface of his philosophical book quotes Zoroastrian, Manian and Zarvanian terms and expressions.


The Abbasid rulers paid special attention to science, which reached its peak at the end of the 4th and beginning of 5th century AH (after hegira) but declined under the Turkmen and Mongol invasions.


The great Iranian translators who knew Syriac, Greek and Pahlavi languages, and translated many scientific books into Arabic were Al-Bakhtyasu, Al-Nowbakht, Omar Ibn Farakhan Tabari, Ali Ibn Ziad Tamimi, Ibn Sahl, Yusef Al-Naqel, Isa Ibn Chaharbakht, Yatr Ibn Rostam Al-Kouhi and the latest was Abu Reyhan Birouni, the mathematician and famous translator of Indian books.


As a result of their efforts, the knowledge and science of India, Greece and Alexandria were narrated in Arabic and helped form the biggest scientific treasury of the Middle Ages.


The most ancient mathematicians and writers among the Muslims were two Iranians: Nowbakht Ahvazi and Ibrahim Ibn Habib-ol-Fazari(8th century AD), and the latter also translated into Arabic a collection of Indian astronomy books.


Achievements of Kharazmi

One of the greatest mathematicians of ancient times who appeared at the end of the 2nd century AH was an Iranian named Muhammad Ibn Musa Al-Kharazmi whose work influenced the Islamic and European culture after 12th century AD.


This great mathematician, in addition to compiling a table of figures named Algorithm or Algorism (now known as Logarithm), also developed Algebra and revived the Iranian and Indian arithmetic system used before him.


His work on Algebra was translated into Latin by the great Latin translator Gerardus Kremonsis.


Mathematics was developed by well-known scientists such as Abu Abbas Fazl Hatam, Abu Musa, Farahani, Omar Ibn Farakhan and Abu Zeid Ahmad Ibn Soheil Balkhi (9th century AD).


Medical Science

In medicine, Mansour Davaneqi, the founder of Baghdad, invited scholars from Jondishapour to that city.


Among them was a Nestorian Christian named Jurjis Ibn Jebreel Ibn Bakhtyasu who wrote a detailed book on medicine, which contained all subjects on medical science known at the time.


Others who migrated to Baghdad also had publications of their own. The first Muslim who wrote on medicine was also another Iranian, Ali Ibn Rabn Tabari, who compiled medical knowledge from Greece, India and Iran.


After him came Abu Bakr Muhammad Bin Zakaria Razi who in the 10th century AD wrote a number of detailed as well as short books on medicine.


His books were translated into Latin and printed several times. In addition to compiling subjects from ancient books, Razi fully relied on his own experiences.


One of his distinguished students was Abu Bakr Joveini who wrote a comprehensive medical book in Persian and this is the first book on medicine in the Persian language and one of the oldest literary works in this language.


The third important writer on medicine was Ali Ibn Abbas Majussi Ahvazi, the physician in the court of Azed-od-Dowleh Daylami, whose works were also translated into Latin and reprinted several times.


His books were considered the best and most complete works on medicine prior to the appearance of Avicenna in 11th century AD.


Avicenna wrote many books and papers on various scientific subjects. His book ‘Qanoun’ (Laws) on medicine was for many centuries used as a textbook by European scientists.


Many physicians have appeared since Avicenna, bur none gained the prominence of Zein-ol-Abedin Esmail Jorjani.


His book is even more complete than ‘Qanoun’ and is considered the greatest medical book written in Persian.


Other Natural Sciences

Iranians were also proficient in other natural sciences such as botany, pharmacology, chemistry, zoology and mineralogy.


The most famous scientists in these fields were Muhammad Bin Zakaria Razi and Abu Reyhan Birouni who also made discoveries.


Alcohol and sulfuric acid were discovered by Razi and Abu Reyhan Birouni calculated the gravity of many substances in a very precise manner.


In the year of 1000 AD, Birouni wrote an astronomical encyclopedia that discusses the possibility that the earth might rotate around the sun long before Tycho Braheand drew the first map of the sky, also using stylized animals to depict the constellations.


Jaber Ibn Hayyan, the famous Iranian chemist who died in 804 at Tous in Khorasan, made a number of important discoveries that were recorded in an encyclopedia and numerous treaties covering 2,000 works that became the bible of European chemists in the 18th century, particularly Lavoisier.


These works led to the following uses: tinctures and their applications in tanning and textiles, distillations of plants and flowers, the origin of perfumes, gunpowder and a powerful instrument of military superiority that Islam possessed long before the West.



Source: IBNA News Agency






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