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Brass astrolabe, the second earliest surviving signed and dated astrolabe made in Europe, by Muhammad ibn al-Saffâr, Cordova, Spain, 417 AH, 1026 - 1027 AD, with rete c. 1300

Museum reference



History of Science

Object name


Production information

ibn al-Saffâr, Muhammad, 1026 - 1030 (fl.), Instrument maker
Cordova, Spain, Southern Europe


1026 - 1027
417 AH
c. 1300

Style / Culture




Physical description



  • Earth in Space (29 Jul 2011)
    National Museum of Scotland

  • Treasured: Wonderful Things, Amazing Stories (14 Nov 2008 - 01 Jan 2011)
    National Museum of Scotland

  • Discover Islamic Art (01 Dec 2005)
    World Wide Web


Turner, A.J., The Time Museum catalogue of the collection, Vol 1: Time Measuring Instruments, Part 1 Astrolabes and Astrolabe Related Instruments, Rockford, 1985, p. 115

Hernández Pérez, Azucena, Catalogo razonado de los astrolabios de la Espana medieval, Madrid 2018, pp 43-49

Hernández Pérez, Azucena, Astrolabios en al-Andalus y los reinos medievales hispanos, Madrid 2018, p 96

Jones, Jean and Uhl, Mary (eds.), Under One Roof, Edinburgh, 1996

Macdonald, A. and Morrison-Low, A.D., A Heavenly Library: Treasures from the Royal Observatory's Crawford Collection, Edinburgh, Royal Observatory and NMS, 1994, p. 24

The replacement rete is discussed by King, David A. 'Medieval Astronomical Instruments: A Catalogue in Preparation' in Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society No 31 (1991), pp 3-7

Plenderleith, R. W., ‘Discovery of an Old Astrolabe’ in The Scottish Geographical Magazine, Vol. 76, No. 1, 1960: 25.

Phillips, P., The Collectors’ Encyclopeadia of Antiques, London 1973, p.604, fig. a.

Maddison, F., and Turner, A., Science and Technology in Islam, exhibition catalogue, London 1976, pp.104–6.

King, D. A., ‘Some Medieval Astronomical Instruments and their Secrets’, in Mazzolini, R. G. (ed.), Non-Verbal Communication in Science prior to 1900, Florence 1993, pp.29–52.

Ulrike Al-Khamis "Astrolabe" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.;ISL;uk;Mus03;1;en

Links to other web pages


On display

national museum of scotland »
level 1 »
natural world, earth in space »
space (early star gazing)

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