Workshop: Maragha and its Scholars. The Intellectual Culture of Medieval Maragha, ca. 1250-1550

Maragha and its Scholars Program

Keynote Address, 6 December 2013

What’s in a School? Maragha and its Historiographical Implications

Sally and Jamil Ragep (McGill University, Montreal)

Like Brigadoon, a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years, the “Maragha School” has, for the most part, been portrayed as a series of discrete episodes. Spanning some 5 centuries over several continents and cultural regions, the School is mostly characterized by individual scientists or brief, courtly patronage, the foremost manifestation of which is the Maragha observatory of the Īlkhānids, which has served as the School’s central pendant. Our talk problematizes this characterization by asking what a school, or scholarly tradition, means in an Islamic context, and the relation of this conceptual construct to the actual physical schools and institutions of Islam. By seeking to understand the continuity of learning in Islam that would, for example, see astronomy transmitted continuously over 50 generations, we will offer an alternative to historical accounts that represent Islamic scientific learning and innovation as inexorably and exclusively tied to individuals, courts, and enlightened rulers.


Program Saturday, 7 December 2013


09:00-11:00 – Panel 1: The Historical Setting of Maragha

Chair: Judith Pfeiffer

Entangling Maragha. Mapping and Quantifying the Networks of a Medieval Urban Centre

Johannes Preiser-Kapeller (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna)

The Lifeworld of Ilkhanid Maragha. A Jigsaw based on Ibn al-Fuwaṭī’s Biographical Dictionary.

Birgitt Hoffmann (University of Bamberg)

Maragha Before the Mongols: An Overview of Intellectual Life Prior to Ṭūsī’s Observatory

Patrick Wing (University of Redlands, CA)


11:00-11:30 Break and Refreshments


11:30-13:00 – Panel 2: Individual Scholars at Maragha: Quṭb al-Dīn Shīrāzī (d. 710/1311)

Chair: Robert Morrison

In the Quest of Knowledge: Qub al-Dīn Shīrāzī in Maragha, and Maragha

in Qub al-Dīn Shīrāzī’s Life

Judith Pfeiffer (University of Oxford)

Quṭb al-Dīn Shīrāzī and His Commentary on the Prosneusis Point

Kaveh Niazi (San Francisco State University, CA)


13:00-14:30 – Lunch


14:30-16:00 –Panel 3: Astronomy at Maragha and Beyond I

Chair: Kaveh Niazi

ʿIlm al-Mīqāt and ʿIlm al-Hayʾa. The role of Maragha in the Differentiation

of Astronomy

Yoichi Isahaya (University of Tokyo)

The Maragha Star Cluster: Networks, Mobility and Knowledge Transfer of Maragha Astronomers

Qiao Yang (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)


16:00-16:30 Break and Refreshments


16:30-18:00 – Panel 4: Astronomy at Maragha and Beyond II

Chair: Jamil Ragep

The Impact of the Maragha Mathematical-Astronomical School on the Anatolian Scientific Environment and Ibn Sartāq (d. [after] 728/1328-9)

İhsan Fazlıoğlu (Istanbul Medeniyet University)

The New Direction of ʿAlī Qushjī’s Astronomy

Robert Morrison (Bowdoin College, ME)


19:30 Dinner


Program Sunday, 8 December 2013


09:30-11:00 – Panel 5: The Scientific Legacy of Maragha

Chair: Johannes Preiser-Kapeller

Maraghan World Maps in a World Context: A Comparative Study of the Maragha School’s Influence on the Development of Equipollent Maps in Latin Europe and Yuan China

Nick Jacobson (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Optics after Maragha: A Preliminary Sketch of the Appendix on Optics in Fatallāh al-Shirwānī’s Shar al-Tadhkira fī ʿilm al-hayʾa

Scott Trigg (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


11:00-11:30 Break and Refreshments


11:30 – 13:00 – Panel 6: Logic and the Reorganization of the Aristotelian Sciences

Chair: İhsan Fazlıoğlu

Maragha Logic

Tony Street (University of Cambridge)

Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī and the Reorganization of the Aristotelian Sciences in the Ilkhanid Textbooks

Heidrun Eichner (University of Tübingen)


13:00 – 14:30 Lunch


14:30-16:00 – Panel 7: Music and Musicians at Maragha

Chair: Heidrun Eichner

Maragha As a Center of the Systematist School of Music Theory in the 13th and 14th Centuries

Amir Hosein Pourjavady (University of Tehran)

ʿAbd al-Qādir Marāghī and the Limits of Intellectual Authority in the 15th Century

İlker Evrim Binbaş (Royal Holloway, University of London)


16:00-16:30 Break and Refreshments


16:30-18:00 – Panel 8: Maragha and Sufi Networks

Chair: Birgitt Hoffmann

Sufi Circles of the Eastern Islamic World in the Biographical Dictionary of Ibn al-Fuwaṭī

Devin DeWeese (Indiana University, Bloomington, IN)

Reconsidering a Classic: The Intellectual and Social World of Ibn Bazzāz Ardabīlī’s Ṣafvat al-ṣafā

Shahzad Bashir (Stanford University, CA)


19:30 Dinner and Farewells


Funding for this workshop was made available by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC Starting Grant 263557 IMPAcT in collaboration with the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford and the German Oriental Institute in Istanbul. Contact: