Scientific Exchange in Mongol Eurasia: Astronomers and Physicians in the Mongol Empire

Scientific Exchange in Mongol Eurasia: Astronomers and Physicians in the Mongol Empire

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Astronomers at work. Illustration of Rashīd al-Dīn's Jāmiʿ al-Tawarīkh. Tabriz (?), early 14th century. Water colors on paper. Original size: 12 cm x 24.3 cm. Staatsbibliothek Berlin, Orientabteilung, Diez A fol. 72, p. 16 no.1.

The Mongol Empire at its height extended from Korea in the east to Hungary in the west and ruled over diverse populations and cultural resources. Under Mongol rule, trans-Eurasian trade, military and diplomatic activities, and migration of professionals created unprecedented opportunities for exchange of knowledge and ideas among different regions, cultures and civilizations. My PhD dissertation aims to examine the role of astronomers and physicians as agents of scientific and medical exchange in the Mongol Eurasia. I approach the question from the perspective of social history and base my analysis on a database of biographies of contemporary professionals, mainly from Yuan China and the Ilkhanate.

The dissertation comprises three main chapters: the astronomers and physicians’ professional learning and practice, their social function and social networks, and their role in the process of transmission of scientific knowledge. The study will highlight the scientists’ networks and the political and social circumstances under which astronomical and medical knowledge was transmitted in the Mongol era. My research will contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms of scientific and cultural exchange in Mongol Eurasia, studying it in a much deeper and broader scope than has previously been done.

Funding Institutions

ERC project
Empire and Cross Cultural Contacts in Mongol Eurasia