How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs

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THE title of this book is perhaps somewhat misleading, for much the greater part of it is occupied by a clear and scholarly account of the general history of the Near East during the period between the conquests of Alexander and the tenth century A.D. The book thus presents valuable material for the student of the science of this period ; but the emphasis is on the background rather than on the science. A work intended for the general reader should give some account of the nature and extent of the scientific knowledge that passed from the Hellenistic world to Islam ; but, in fact, he does not find much beyond the names of works, with many of which he may be unfamiliar. The reviewer noted with some astonishment that the author does not so much as mention alchemy or chemistry, the transfer of which presents interesting and important problems, on which a good deal of work has been done. The proof-correction of the book is much at fault; such errors as Antonius for Antoninus, Ultianus for Ulpianus, may mislead the reader and must shake his confidence in the correctness of the many names he will meet for the first time in these pages. The author cites a few formulae in illustration of Indian and Arab mathematics ; these appear in forms so erroneous as to be scarcely recognizable. In spite of these defects, which might easily be removed in a second edition, the book satisfies a real need in giving a compact account of a period which, while it is little studied except by specialists, is of the first importance to the historian of science.

How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs

By the Rev. De Lacy O'Leary. Pp. vi+196. (London: Routledge and Kegan Bank Ltd., 1948.) 15s. net.

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TAYLOR, F. How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs. Nature 163, 748 (1949) doi:10.1038/163748c0

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