• The oldest surviving Islamic astrolabe

    The oldest surviving Islamic astrolabe

    THE OLDEST
    ASTROLABE

The oldest Islamic astrolabe

Iraq, 9th century

An astrolabe is a two-dimensional map of the heavens which shows the movement of celestial bodies. The word comes from the Greek astro (‘star’) and labon (‘taker’).

The development and use of astrolabes reached its zenith in the Islamic world, for both secular and religious purposes.

This astrolabe was probably made in Iraq, but was found in shallow waters off the coast of Malaysia. It may have been used on a trading expedition between Iraq and China.

It is also probably the oldest surviving Islamic astrolabe in the world, made in the 9th century; the only older example was lost during the looting of the Baghdad Museum in 2003.

The oldest surviving Islamic astrolabe