Unit Four: Science and the Art of the Islamic World

Textile fragment

Preparing Medicine from Honey: Folio from a dispersed manuscript of an Arabic translation of the Materia Medica of Dioscorides (detail). Dated A.H. 621 / A.D. 1224. Calligrapher: 'Abdullah ibn al-Fadl. Iraq, Baghdad or northern Jazira

After reading this unit, you will be able to:

  • identify significant innovations in the Islamic world that contributed to the fields of astronomy, astrology, and medicine
  • understand how the esteem for scientific inquiry led to the creation and beautification of scientific instruments, implements, and manuals
  • understand how an interest in science prompted the translation of ancient texts into Arabic and ensured the preservation of this knowledge, which provided a foundation for future advances in both the East and the West

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The works of art featured in this unit were created with a practical purpose in mind. Together, they highlight achievements in three of the most developed scientific disciplines in the Islamic world: astronomy, astrology, and medicine.

Astronomical knowledge fulfilled a utilitarian function in the Muslim world by facilitating the proper ritual practice of Islam.

Surviving medical texts are a testament to the work of Muslim physicians and their desire to understand and heal the human body.

Read in-depth information about featured works of art related to this unit.

A list of resources for additional reading, with grade levels indicated

A list of sources used to compile the information in this unit

Unit Four Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan: Science and the Art of the Islamic World

Students will be able to identify similarities and differences between scientific tools used now and long ago; and use research findings to support observations and interpretations.


Planispheric astrolabe

The lesson plan related to Science and the Art of the Islamic World features a planispheric astrolabe.