Islamic Science in the Medieval Era

2572 Words11 Pages
There are many terms used to describe the period after the fall of Rome and before the Renaissance, three main terms being the Middle, Medieval, and Dark Ages. In general, these terms are used interchangeably, but are these fair substitutions? In recent years the term “Dark Ages” is becoming less and less acceptable as a phrase which describes the span of years it is meant to refer to. The use of the term “dark” implies a period of stagnation, which is becoming a questionable concept. In particular, the span of time referred to in this paper is 530-1452 BCE, with specific attention paid to the scientific discoveries and innovations rather than art or literature. These dates are significant because in 529 the Academy and Lyceum in Athens were shutdown by the Byzantine emperor, thus ending the Greek intellectual influence. The date of 1453 is chosen because many Greek texts arrived in Europe in 1453 after the fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Turks, thereby reviving the struggling European scientific fields (Bunch 93). This essay will show that the medieval period was not a so-called “dark age” because of scientific innovation in the Islamic world, and is only referred to as such because of the popular bias in the West of focusing on Europe. In order to make this clear, firstly, two objections to this proposition will be analyzed and clearly refuted. Following these counter arguments, the main weight of historical facts and events in the identification and explanation of Islamic scientific innovation will be presented, showing the inaccuracy of referring to the medieval period as dark. Finally, I will show that the misleading perception of the medieval era as stagnant is due to the modern bias for the superiority of Western... ... middle of paper ... ...ime period in a positive scientific light. The distinction between modern and medieval science was described as medieval science being more theoretical in nature and modern being of the more applied variety. Through the further presentation of the plethora of Islamic scientists, covering fields as diverse as astronomy, medicine, chemistry, and physics it has been shown, without a doubt, that significant scientific contributions were made in this period. Finally, the source of this misconception was exposed through the common accidental perception of the past as a European narrative. History can easily be focused around Europe, and to do so produces a view of the medieval era being stagnant. However, when one looks at the greater global picture, it is clear that the Islamic world more than makes up for this lull in innovation, successfully brightening the “Dark Age”.
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