Non-Verbal Aspects of Astrolabe Knowledge: Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century Hebrew Manuscripts

22.03.2021 | 17.04.2022

dr Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

This paper considers non-verbal aspects of astrolabe knowledge in Hebrew manuscripts, namely, non-textual representations of the astrolabe. The purpose is to understand the potential, limitations, and ambiguities of images to convey science and knowledge about mathematical instruments, notably, astrolabes in medieval Jewish culture. Many studies have been carried out on cosmological and astronomical diagrams in Latin manuscripts, but to date there is not a single study on those that appear in Hebrew manuscripts. On the other hand, much has been written about the use of images in early modern scientific printed texts, but not much about those in manuscripts. Here I consider non-textual representations of astrolabes in Hebrew manuscripts, i.e., diagrams and pictures. I analyse the various roles of instrument images and diagrams in manuscripts, and finally consider the exceptional case of a Hebrew astrolabe album.

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