Merv: History, Science and Learning

Merv: History, Science and Learning

Merv, was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this strategic site, which was significant for the interchange of trade, culture and politics. In the early Islamic period, Merv was the capital of the province of Khorasan, and in the 12th century it was the largest city in the world. The following article surveys some aspects of learning, science and history of Merv as an Islamic city between the 10th and the 13th century. A special focus is laid on the scholars and scientists of Merv, the greatest of whom was Abd Al-Rahman Al-Khazini. Besides being a gifted astronomer, he is the author of Kitab mizan al-hikma, an encyclopedia of mechanics structured about the theory and the practice of various kinds of balances, especially the universal balance, an extremely precise scientific instrument for measuring the weights of bodies and their specific gravities.

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