Astronomy and Islam in late Ottoman Egypt

with Daniel Stolz

hosted by Nir Shafir

The movements of celestial bodies had long been of tremendous importance within the social and religious spheres throughout the Muslim world. As new understandings of space and time began to emerge during the nineteenth century, longstanding astronomical practices in places such as Egypt witnessed a profound transformation. In this episode, Daniel Stolz discusses the importance of astronomy in nineteenth-century Egypt and the overlapping scientific traditions they practiced.

Daniel Stolz is a postdoctoral fellow in the Program in Science in Human Culture and Department of History at Northwestern University. His research examines the history of science, technology, and Islam since the eighteenth century. (academic page)
Nir Shafir is a doctoral candidate at UCLA studying Ottoman intellectual history. (see

Episode No. 169
Release date: 10 August 2014
Location: Paris, France
Editing and Production by Chris Gratien
This episode is part of an ongoing series entitled History of Science, Ottoman or Otherwise.

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Citation: "Astronomy and Islam in late Ottoman Egypt," Daniel Stolz, Nir Shafir, and Chris Gratien, Ottoman History Podcast, No. 169 (10 August 2014)


Barak, On. On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.

Crozet, Pascal. Les sciences modernes en Égypte: transfert et appropriation, 1805-1902. Paris: Geuthner, 2008.

Elshakry, Marwa. Reading Darwin in Arabic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Wishnitzer, Avner. "Our Time: On the Durability of the Alaturka Hour System in the Late Ottoman Empire,” International Journal of Turkish Studies, 16/1 (2010): 47-69.

Brentjes, Sonja, and Robert G. Morrison. “The Sciences in Islamic Societies.” The New Cambridge History of Islam, Volume 4. Ed. Robert Irwin with William Blair. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

King, David A. In Synchrony with the Heavens: Studies in Astronomical Timekeeping and Instrumentation in Medieval Islam. 2v. Leiden: Brill, 2004. (See especially Part V, “On the role of the muezzin and muwaqqit.”)

Kennedy, E.S. “A Survey of Astronomical Tables.” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 46 (New Series), no. 2 (1956), 123-177. (A classic survey of the history of the zij.)

Sayılı, Aydın. The Observatory in Islam and Its Place in the General History of the Observatory. Ankara: Turkish Historical Society, 1960.


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