The genesis of this article lies in a recent visit to the Romanesque cathedral of Lund. While in the cathedral, I walked over to the medieval astronomical clock to await the moving figures and music that accompany the striking of the hour. During my wait, I noticed four carved figures that had been placed in each of the corners of the top part of the clock. The figures were wearing exotic clothing and one even wore a turban, immediately bringing to mind the image of an Arabic astronomer. This challenged my previous assumption that Muslims had generally been portrayed in a negative light in medieval Scandinavia. Indeed, it actually seemed to suggest that there was a sense of pride in having these figures here occupying a prominent place within the walls of one of medieval Scandinavia’s most important ecclesiastical buildings. This encounter tied in with research that I had been undertaking on the influence and dissemination of Arabic scientific works in Scandinavia, particularly in Iceland.
Lund Astronomical Clock
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