We are thrilled to announce that we now have online the entire manuscript of Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni, his ‘Chronology of Ancient Nations’. Al- Biruni was a famous astronomer and polymath and he completed this compendium in the year 1000. It records a vast number of calendars and chronological systems from a variety of different cultural and religious groups in the late antique and medieval periods in the Hellenic world, Central Asia and the Near East, even detailing festivals and liturgical practices.
This particular manuscript is thought to have been copied in 1307 and was the archetype for the three later versions which were used by Edward Sachau to translate the document from Arabic into English during the nineteenth century. More information can be found here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hebrew-jewish/research/research-pro/calendars-antiquity-middle-ages/al-biruni and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Biruni
The manuscript contains a wealth of beautiful illustrations and many fine examples of calligraphy. In this image the birth of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, is depicted. According to Al-Biruni, Augustus was delivered by Caesarean Section after his mother died during labour.
Here, a scene from the Persian story of creation is shown. Similar to the Christian tradition of Adam and Eve, Misha and Mishyana are expelled from paradise after Ahriman persuades them to eat fruit.
Systems Developer Scott Renton has put together a fantastic book reader version which can be found at http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/n51sz1 and the full size pages are available here http://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/u3mjw3
the detailed metadata for these was provided by our wonderful former intern, Gemma Scott.
Susan Pettigrew, Photographer