Putting the House of Wisdom in Order: The Fourth Islamic Century and the Impulse to Classify, Arrange and Inventory

Conference, February 19–20, 2016


Prof. Dr. Ulrich Rudolph (University of Zurich), Dr. Letizia Osti (Università degli Studi di Milano), Dr. James Weaver (University of Zurich)


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies – Islamic Studies, URPP Asia and Europe, and Università degli Studi di Milano


Room RAA E-08, Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich


Registration required by February 15, 2016: james.weaver@aoi.uzh.ch


The fourth Islamic century (roughly the tenth century CE) witnessed a proliferation of texts that aimed in one way or another to codify and render accessible the scientific and literary production of the preceding Islamic centuries and of the pre-Islamic cultures whose intellectual heritage had entered the purview of Arabic scholarly tradition. In an age that combined consolidation with renewed scientific ingenuity, many authors sought comprehensiveness in compiling, arranging, editing and commenting upon the products of discrete, well recognized domains of scholarly endeavor. Others were involved in a project of surveying the whole sweep of human knowledge, mapping the topology of its distinct parts and describing their contents. This workshop will explore motivations for, and manifestations of the period’s enthusiasm for classification and arrangement.