Ancient Islamic Astrolabe Discovered in Italian Museum: A Multilingual Instrument of Astronomy and Religion

Astrolabe from the 11th Century Used by Muslims, Jews, and Christians Unearthed

An ancient Islamic astrolabe from the 11th century was discovered in an Italian museum by an expert from the University of Cambridge. The astrolabe, which features inscriptions in both Arabic and Hebrew, is one of the oldest multilingual examples ever found. It was used and adapted by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian users in Spain, North Africa, and Italy over centuries.

Federica Gigante, an expert from the University of Cambridge, stumbled upon an image of the astrolabe on the website of the Fondazione Museo Miniscalchi-Erizzo in Verona. Initially, the museum did not know what it was and considered it might be fake. After further study, Gigante confirmed its authenticity and deemed it the most important object in the museum’s collection.

The Verona astrolabe underwent numerous modifications and adaptations as it changed hands, with at least three different users adding translations and corrections to the object. These modifications included inscriptions in Hebrew and a Western language. Gigante was able to date and locate the creation of the astrolabe in Andalusia in the 11th century through her expertise in Islamic astrolabes.

The Verona astrolabe was a versatile astronomical instrument that provided a portable model of the universe, allowing users to calculate time and distances, plot star positions, and even forecast the future through horoscopes. The specific design of this particular astrolabe catered to its Muslim, Jewish

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