People

Sonja Brentjes

Affiliated Scholar (Jan 2020-Dec 2022)

Prof. Dr.

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.

Projects

A Book on al-Khazini’s Book on the Balance of Wisdom

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Image Database: Visualization and Material Cultures of the Heavens

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Mediterranean Nautical Cartography: Islands or Gateways of Knowledge?

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Visualization and Material Cultures of the Heavens in Eurasia and North Africa (4000 BCE–1700 CE)

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Convivencia. Iberian to Global Dynamics (500–1750)

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Cross-cultural Knowledge Transfer through Translation

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Teaching and Learning the Sciences in Islamicate Societies (800-1700)

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Selected Publications

Brentjes, Sonja and Alexander Fidora, eds. (2021). Premodern Translation: Comparative Approaches to Cross-Cultural Transformations. Contact and Transmission 2. Turnhout: Brepols.

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Brentjes, Sonja (2021). “The Mathematical Sciences and Medicine in Safavid Iran.” In The Safavid World, ed. R. Matthee, 428–446. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003170822-27.

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Brentjes, Sonja and Dagmar Schäfer, eds. (2020). Imagining the Heavens: Historiographical Challenges and Eurasian Perspectives. [Special issue] NTM. 28/3. Basel: Birkhäuser. https://link.springer.com/journal/48/volumes-and-issues/28-3.

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Brentjes, Sonja (2020). “Teaching Mathematical and Astronomical Knowledge in Classical and Post-Classical Islamicate Societies.” In Knowledge and Education in Classical Islam: Religious Learning between Continuity and Change. Vol. 2, ed. S. Günther,…

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Feature Story

Events

Talk

Celestial Bodies, Sovereign Gods: Sūrya, Candra and the Planets in Northern India in the First Millenium CE

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Workshop

Tangut Astrology: Visuality, Materiality, Transculturalism

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Methods Intensive Workshop

Reconstructing Notre Dame: Expertise, Art, Money, Politics.

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Methods Intensive Workshop

Three-Dimensional Scanning at the Transept of the Cathedral in Paris: The Benefit for Art History

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Colloquium

Multiple Translation Activities

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Workshop

The Safavid Multi-Text-Manuscript 1984.463 (Harvard University, Sackler Museum)—its Content and Context

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Workshop

Visualization of Heavens II

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Workshop

Visualization of Heavens I

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Colloquium

Teaching Sciences in Islamicate Societies

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External/Cooperation Event

Narratives on Translations

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Lecture

Public Lecture: Narratives, Translations, and a Global History of Science

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Institute's Colloquium

Institutions of Knowledge in Islamicate Societies: Patronage, Books, Families, the Arts

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Conference

Studies of Knowledge in Eurasia and Africa: Issues of Methodology and Future Perspectives

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