Science in the Islamic World


Science in the Islamic World (from top left, clockwise) astrolabe rete (star map), celestial globe, quadrant, Persian inclining dial, Qibla indicator, manuscript

What makes our collection 'Islamic'?

We are guardians of the world's most comprehensive collection of astronomical instruments from the Islamic World.
But what do we mean by 'Islamic'?
Ranging from the 800s CE to the present day, these scientific objects were created and used by people living in lands where the majority religion was — or is — Islam.
What we call the Islamic World has changed dynamically over time: Spain, for example, was part of the Islamic World from 711 to 1492 CE, as was southern Italy from 827 to 1139 CE.
While the artisans who made them came from different regions — Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia — the objects themselves still share many similar, distinctive characteristics.
And though the instrument makers all lived and worked in the Islamic world, they were not all themselves Muslim.
The result is a fascinatingly rich and diverse collection. 


Explore the Collection

Take a look at our collection areas

If you're a researcher or student and need to know more about any of these objects, please do get in touch with our Curator


MSS Stapleton (1-49): Alchemical works in Arabic script 

The History of Science Museum holds a collection of 49 alchemical manuscripts brought together by Henry Ernest Stapleton (1878-1962), chemist, educational administrator, and historian.
Most of the manuscripts are alchemical treatises in Arabic script — both antique manuscripts and modern copies of originals — dating from 1500 to 1956 CE.
The collection also includes papers and correspondence of Stapleton himself discussing and analysing manuscripts similar to these (1894-1961 CE).


Search the MSS Stapleton Collection





Learning and Teaching

Bring Museum learning alive

Our Learning team offer a great selection of interactive workshops, linked to the National Curriculum, including sessions themed around science in the Islamic World.
Blended learning
Do you want to experience hands-on learning in the Museum galleries?
Or bring the wonder of museum learning into your own classroom?
Talk to our Learning Producers to find the in-person or online learning solution that's right for you.
Your next steps
Email our Learning Team 


Primary and Secondary Schools - learning and teaching


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