I am a historian of science with a focus on institutions, mathematics, and mapmaking in Islamicate societies until 1700 and cross-cultural encounters in the Mediterranean and western Asia since the eighth century. Currently, I am working on a new interpretation of the Book on the Balance of Wisdom by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Khazini (d. 1130s). With an international group of scholars, I am also building an image database on the visualization of the heavens in Eurasia and North Africa until c. 1700 and the material and intellectual cultures of these images.
I studied mathematics at the Technical University Dresden (1969–1973), history of mathematics and science at the Karl Marx University Leipzig (1973–1976), and Near Eastern history and Arabic at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (1978–1982). I wrote my PhD on the history of linear programming and my second dissertation on number theory in Arabic and Persian texts composed between 800 and 1250 (1977; 1989). In 1991, I acquired the venia legendi.
I have published broadly on different topics in the history of mathematics, cartography, patronage, higher education, science and the arts, cross-cultural encounters, and historiography. Recently I edited a book on processes of globalization in the Mediterranean between 700 and 1500 (with Jürgen Renn) and a book about historical narratives on scholarly activities in non-Western societies of the past and their distortions (with Taner Edis and Lutz Richter-Bernburg). My latest published paper deals with early modern sources that reveal how Europeans learned to speak and write Arabic outside the university.
Brentjes, Sonja (2024). Historiography of the History of Science in Islamicate Societies: Practices, Concepts, Questions. Variorum Collected Studies 1114. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003372493.Read More
Fancy, Nahyan, Justin Stearns, Sonja Brentjes, A. Tunç Şen, Scott Trigg, Noah Gardiner, Nükhet VarlıkRutgers, Matthew Melvin-Koushki, and S. Nomanul Haq (2023). “Current Debates and Emerging Trends in the History of Science in Premodern Islamicate…Read More
Brentjes, Sonja (2023). “Arabic and Arabo-Latin Translations of Euclid’s Elements.” In Plurilingualism in Traditional Eurasian Scholarship: Thinking in Many Tongues, ed. G. W. Most, D. Schäfer, and M. Söderblom Saarela, 376–387. Leiden: Brill. https…Read More
Brentjes, Sonja (2023). “Stories of Origin: Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-Fihrist.” In Plurilingualism in Traditional Eurasian Scholarship: Thinking in Many Tongues, ed. G. W. Most, D. Schäfer, and M. Söderblom Saarela, 425–443. Leiden: Brill. https://doi…Read More