## Discover Our Exhibitions

### Mathematics

Arabic mathematics, developed between the 9th and 16th centuries, comprises various traditions. It emerged in the 9th century from two crucial events: the development of mathematics in Islamic countries and the creation of algebra.

### Geography

Medieval Arabic geography developed from the 3rd century AH (9th century CE) in Baghdad not only from the need to organise and manage the Islamic empire, but also to accurately define its borders and location.

### Navigation

Navigation saw continuous development in the Indian Ocean, from the ports of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, equally well in the direction of Eastern Africa and Madagascar and towards India and South-East Asia.

### Astronomy

The science of astronomy and astronomical research sought to address questions of a religious, geographic or economic nature. Islamic astronomy developed in the early 3rd century AH (9th century CE).

### Optics

By the early 9th century CE, Arabic philosophers, and mathematicians were already actively conducting their own research into vision and catoptrics. Their research fuelled a wave of translations of Greek scholars into Arabic.

### Mechanics

In the Islamic world, research on mechanics essentially related to statics, hydrostatics, ingenious mechanisms and kinematics. Advances in statics were primarily directed to demonstrating the law of the lever.

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#### The Exhibition Gallery contains a range of international historical artifacts displaying the development of applied science from the early age of classical Greek-Roman era, through to the Islamic period and into the present society. The gallery is divided into three sections; the first section holds a permeant exhibition displaying a diverse range of Mathematical, Geography, Navigational, Astronomy, Optical and Mechanical instruments, artefacts and interactive displays. The second section contains the Research Library for the History of Science. The final section is the hall which holds events an harmony with the Centre objectives.

## Mathematics

Arabic mathematics, developed between the 9th and 16th centuries, comprises various traditions. Arabic mathematics emerged from two crucial events in the 9th century: first, the expansion of Greek mathematics after this was transferred to Islamic countries and, second, the creation of algebra as an independent mathematical discipline with new scope for applications. From the 9th century, mathematics underwent an unparalleled development with various branches of Greek mathematics adopted and reinvented by Arabic scholars and the discovery of algebra. This led to the creation of several new mathematical subjects with their own specific language and new methods of proof, such as algebraic geometry and algebraic number theory. At the same time, Arabic mathematicians continued to develop such areas as classical number theory and Euclidean geometry. The extent and scale of their scholarship is evidence of a cohesive and rich mathematical environment between the 9th century and the first half of the 17th century.

## Geography

Medieval Arabic geography developed from the 3rd century AH (9th century CE) in Baghdad not only from the need to organise and manage the Islamic empire, but also to accurately define its borders and location. In general, medieval Arabic geography was driven by two movements, mathematical geography and human geography. Arabic mathematical geography emerged with the translation of Ptolemy’s Geographia, and particularly with its radical adaptation by the leading Arabic mathematician and astronomer al-Khwārizmī in the 3rd century AH (9th century CE). One hundred years later, Arabic geographers began focusing specifically on the Islamic world. Rather than providing a mimetic, proportional image of geographical features, maps of Islamic lands tended to represent the geographers’ ideas of these realms. In this process, Islamic geographers also sought to establish rational criteria for defining borders, lands and other entities, their multiple human realities, and spatial divisions and causes. These developments led to a human geography of the Islamic world. After the 5th century AH (11th century AD), Islamic geographers focused on regional or even local areas, often on just one region, town or city. By this time, geographic works frequently came in the form of catalogues listing and describing geographic facts, such as seas, lands, and mountains.

## Navigation

Navigation saw continuous development in the Indian Ocean, from the ports of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, equally well in the direction of Eastern Africa and Madagascar and towards India, South-East Asia and China. This section illustrates some of the major historical developments in maritime technology and science in Islamic societies, highlighting in particular Oman and the Muslim seafarers of the Indian Ocean. The section is divided into four groups. The first group outlines developments in naval construction, focusing especially on transitions in methods and materials. The second group looks at various technical methods of steering a vessel, and evolutions in design. The third group chronicles the development of sails in the Islamic world as the main form of propulsion prior to the invention of steam. Finally, the fourth group explores the science of navigation practiced by Muslims, with a special emphasis on Indian Ocean navigation. All these aspects are related to the primary maritime exhibit, the experimental reconstruction of the al-Hariri Boat, displayed at the museum entrance.

## Astronomy

The science of astronomy and astronomical research sought to address questions of a religious, geographic or economic nature. Islamic astronomy developed in the early 3rd century AH (9th century CE) with the establishment of a collective programme for systematic observations. From this period on, Islamic astronomers emphasised the need for precision instruments and continuous, repeated observations. During the same period, major Indian and Greek works on astronomy were also translated. As mathematical knowledge and theory progressed, astronomy became an increasingly exact science. At the same time, indepth research into the instruments ensured high-precision continuous measurements. Astronomers also drafted geometric models able to explain physical phenomena. In the late 10th century CE, Ibn al-Haytham criticised Ptolemy’s model. This critique of the Ptolemaic system fuelled a renewal of astronomy, initially by Ibn al-Haytham himself and later by his successors in the 13th and 14th centuries. Ibn al-Haytham devised fully geometrised celestial kinematics for the first time, while the 13th and14th centuries scholars and scientists, such al-Tūsī and ibn al-Shātir, put forward new astronomies that were subsequently adopted by Copernicus.

## Optics

By the early 9th century CE, Arabic philosophers, physicians, and mathematicians were already actively conducting their own research into vision, catoptrics and burning mirrors. Their new research fuelled a wave of translations of the works of Greek philosophers and scholars into Arabic. Over the next two centuries, Arabic scholars paved the way for a real revolution permanently shaping the history of optics in particular, and physics in general. The first leading Arabic scholars researching into optics and catoptrics were Qusṭā ibn Lūqā and, first and foremost, al-Kindī. After Ibn Sahl’s studies of burning mirrors, he was the first scholar ever to research plano-convex and biconvex lenses. In his work here, he discovered the law later formulated as the Snell-Descartes law of refraction. The writings of Ibn al-Haytham launched the first revolution in optics. By studying the physical nature of light and analysing the physiology of the vision, he combined the various fields of optics into one single discipline. Moreover, he called for proof in optics and, more generally, in physics, to be experimental and mathematical. Ibn al-Haytham’s advances here were further developed by Kamāl al-Dīn al-Fārisī. Not only did al-Fārisī successfully explain such phenomena as the rainbow and the halo effect, but also initiated the study of colours. In addition, he expanded on his predecessor’s quantitative research. Arabic optics largely came to the West through Latin translations of al-Kindī and Ibn al-Haytham. By the 13th century CE, their writings, as well as those of Arabic physicians and philosophers such as Ibn Sīnā, al-Rāzī, etc. were widely disseminated among scholars in Europe.

## Mechanics

In the Islamic world, research on mechanics essentially related to statics, hydrostatics, ingenious mechanisms and kinematics. Advances in statics were primarily directed to demonstrating the law of the lever and the geometric study of centres of gravity. This research culminated in determining the centres of gravity of solid geometric figures such as the parabolic segment. Such progress in statics also served the branch of hydrostatics studying the equilibrium of bodies in liquids. Using Archimedes’ principle of floating bodies, Arabic mathematicians could develop this area of science, establishing laws to determine the composition of alloys and distinguish genuine gemstones. Balances are the ultimate symbol of statics and hydrostatics. Kinematics research began when various scholars sought to apply geometry to problems of motion, critiquing Greek physics or attempting to answer questions related to the movements of the stars and the propagation of light. Progress in the science of ingenious mechanisms came essentially in two areas: playful mechanisms for diversion and e ntertainment, from automatons to ingenious pitchers and other vessels, as well as, second, utilitarian devices such as clocks, and mechanisms for irrigation or lifting heavy loads.