Introduction: Astrolabes and Africa 05

front of astrolabe MHS inv. 51459

As a contribution to the Africa 05 festival, the Museum of the History of Science presents ten astrolabes from Africa. The festival has concentrated on music, theatre, dance and the visual arts, rather than on science or its history, but through these remarkable instruments we can see that Africa has a part to play in this story as well.

The astrolabes include some beautiful and ingenious examples and range in date from the 13th to the 19th century. They are all from North Africa, either from Egypt or from the area to the west known as the Maghrib (encompassing modern Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco).

To go directly to the astrolabes, click on ‘Instruments’ in the menu. The other menu links give background on the use and origins of the astrolabe.

Museum of the History of Science
University of Oxford