The courts of the Ottoman sultans Mehmed II (d. 1481) and Bayezid II (d. 1512) were, on one hand, the site of significant developments of earlier scientific traditions inherited from Iran and Central Asia. On the other hand, scholars at the Ottoman court were more interested than their predecessors in the scientific culture of non-Islamic societies. Important science came east while the science of Islamic societies traveled west. In this lecture, Professor Morrison will describe some of the content of the science but focus on the cultural dynamics that facilitated this remarkable scientific exchange which had a lasting impact on the European Renaissance.
Robert Morrison is George Lincoln Skolfield, Jr. Professor of Religion at Bowdoin College. A specialist in the science of Islamic societies, his courses lie in the academic study of both Islam and Judaism, but address, in addition, comparative topics. His recent book, The Light of the World: Astronomy in al-Andalus (University of California Press, 2016) studied scientific theories which were produced in Andalusia in 1400, and which traveled first to the Ottoman court and then to the University of Padua. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation, and by fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center and the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, he is at work on a study of Jewish scholarly intermediaries between the Ottoman Empire and Renaissance Italy.