The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2007 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, F. Jamil Ragep, JoAnn Palmeri, Marvin Bolt

Ulugh Beg: Muḥammad Ṭaraghāy ibn Shāhrukh ibn Tīmūr

  • Benno van Dalen
Reference work entry

BornSulṭāniyya, (Iran), 22 March 1394

Diednear Samarqand, (Uzbekistan), 27 October 1449

Ulugh Beg (Turkish for “great prince”) was governor of Transoxiana and Turkestan and, during the last 2 years of his life, Timurid Sultan. However, he is mostly remembered as a patron of mathematics and astronomy. In Samarqand, he founded a school and the famous astronomical observatory, where the most extensive observations of planets and fixed stars at any Islamic observatory were made. Ulugh Beg is associated with a Persian astronomical handbook (zīj) that stands out for the accuracy with which its tables were computed.

Ulugh Beg was the first‐born son of Shāhrukh (youngest son of the infamous conqueror Tīmūr or Tamerlane) and his first wife Gawharshād. He was raised at the court of his grandfather and, at the age of 10, was married to his cousin Agha Bīkī, whose mother was a direct descendent of Chingiz Khan. Thus Ulugh Beg could use the epithet Gūrgān, “royal son‐in‐law,” which had...

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Selected References

  1. Bagheri, Mohammad (1997). “A Newly Found Letter of Al‐Kāshī on Scientific Life in Samarkand.” Historia Mathematica 24: 241–256.zbMATHCrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
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  3. Kary‐Niiazov, T. N. (1950). Astronomicheskaya shkola Ulugbeka (The astronomical school of Ulugh Beg) (in Russian). Moscow: Akademia Nauk SSSR. (Second enlarged edition in Kary‐Niiazov, Izbrannye trudy [Collected works]. Vol. 6. Tashkent: FAN, 1967.)Google Scholar
  4. ——— (1976). “Ulugh Beg.” In Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie. Vol. 13, pp. 535–537. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.Google Scholar
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  7. ——— (1998). “Ulugh Beg as Scientist.” Chapter 10 in Astronomy and Astrology in the Medieval Islamic World. Aldershot: Ashgate. (Describes the marginal note by Ulugh Beg in a manuscript of Kāshī's Zīj.)Google Scholar
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  10. ——— (1993). “A More Complete Analysis of the Errors in Ulugh Beg's Star Catalogue.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 24: 269–280.ADSGoogle Scholar
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  15. ———(1960). Ghiyâth al‐Dîn al Kâshî's Letter on Ulugh Beg and the Scientific Activity in Samarqand. Ankara: Turkish Historical Society.Google Scholar
  16. Schoy, Carl (1927). Die trigonometrischen Lehren des persischen Astronomen Abū ‘l‐Rayhān Muhammed ibn Ahmed al‐Bīrūnī dargestellt nach al‐Qānūn al‐Mas ҁ ūdī. Hanover: Lafaire. (Reprinted in Schoy, Beiträge zur arabisch‐islamischen Mathematik und Astronomie, edited by Fuat Sezgin, Vol. 2, pp. 629–746. Frankfurt am Main: Institute for the History of Arabic‐Islamic Science, 1988.) (Includes an edition of parts of Ulugh Beg's sine and tangent tables.)Google Scholar
  17. Sédillot, Louis P. E. Amélie (1847). Prolégomènes des tables astronomiques d'Oloug‐Beg. Publiés avec notes et variantes et précédés d'une introduction. Paris: Firmin Didot.Google Scholar
  18. ——— (1853). Prolégomènes des tables astronomiques d'Oloug‐Beg. Traduction et commentaire. Paris: Firmin Didot.Google Scholar
  19. Shevchenko, Mikhail Yu (1990). “An Analysis of Errors in the Star Catalogues of Ptolemy and Ulugh Beg.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 21: 187–201.ADSMathSciNetGoogle Scholar

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  • Benno van Dalen

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