Arts of Caliphal Science

The image you see above is a rare example of a precision instrument made during the century in which ‘Abbas Ibn Firnas lived and worked. Preserved today in the Oxford Museum of History of Science, it is a finely crafted astrolabe created by Khafīf, an apprentice of the pioneering astrolabe maker ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā, who was active in what is now Syria.

One of our aims was to gather information on other such early surviving caliphal scientific objects, and manuscripts. This information is available in an Excel spreadsheet, available for download here. If you find this information helpful we would be glad to hear from you. We also welcome additions and/or corrections. Please send these to



Image: Astrolabe signed by Khafīf (Inv. 47632). Courtesy of Oxford Museum of History of Science