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Science in the Medieval World

Science in the Medieval World
"Book of the Categories of Nations"
Translated and edited by Sema`an I. Salem and Alok Kumar

A medieval Spanish Muslim manuscript describing the contributions of nine nations to human knowledge.

January 1996
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144 pages | 6 x 9 | 1 map |

During the Middle Ages, a thriving center for learning and research was Muslim Spain, where students gathered to consult Arabic manuscripts of earlier scientific works and study with famous teachers. One of these teachers was Sa'id al-Andalusi, who in 1068 wrote Kitab Tabaqat al-'Umam, or "Book of the Categories of Nations," which recorded the contributions to science of all known nations. Today, it is one of few surviving medieval Spanish Muslim texts, and this is its first English translation.

Science ('ulum), as used by Sa'id and other scholars of that period, is a broad term covering virtually all aspects of human knowledge. After initial discussions of the categories of nations that did or did not cultivate science, Sa'id details the specific contribution of nine nations or peoples-India, Persia, Chaldea, Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Arab Orient, al-Andalus, and the Hebrews. He includes the names of many individual scientists and scholars and describes their various contributions to knowledge, making his book a significant work of reference as well as history.

  • Acknowledgments
  • System of Transliteration
  • Sa'id al-Andalusi
  • Introduction
  • Tabaqat al-'Umam
    • Chapter 1. The Seven Original Nations
    • Chapter 2. The Two Categories of Nations
    • Chapter 3. Nations Having No Interest in Science
    • Chapter 4. Nations That Cultivated the Sciences
    • Chapter 5. Science in India
    • Chapter 6. Science in Persia
    • Chapter 7. Science of the Chaldeans
    • Chapter 8. Science in Greece
    • Chapter 9. Science of the Romans
    • Chapter 10. Science in Egypt
    • Chapter 11. The Arabs: General Information
    • Chapter 12. Science in the Arab Orient
    • Chapter 13. Science in al-Andalus
    • Chapter 14. Science of Banu Israel
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Sema‘an I. Salem is Professor of Physics at California State University, Long Beach. Alok Kumar is Associate Professor of Physics at State University of New York, Oswego.