Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Astrolabe synchronicity

After I posted about Champlain's astrolabe, out came another astrolabe story in the press: Ancient calculator in 'record' sale "A 14th century scientific tool, which was the "pocket calculator" of its age, has sold for a "world record" price. The astrolabe quadrant ... an anonymous telephone bidder at an auction at Bonhams in London... Auctioneer Jon Baddeley said: "This is an extremely rare piece. Prior to its discovery in 2005, there were only seven others known about. Now there are only eight known in the world, in its area it's gone for a world record price." The astrolabe quadrant has been dated to 1388, the period when Geoffrey Chaucer began to write The Canterbury Tales, and was used for telling the time, surveying, mapping the stars and making calculations such as measuring the height of buildings or the depth of a well. Made in England, it is one of only eight known examples in the world. It is also one of the oldest and smallest in existence. The brass instrument was discovered underneath a series of clay floors during building work in 2005 to extend a restaurant in Canterbury, Kent, known as the House of Agnes - a 17th century inn on the road to London, just outside the city..." Maybe it was Chaucer's? He wrote a treatise on their use according to Wikipedia. "The English author Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1343–1400) compiled a treatise on the astrolabe for his son, mainly based on Messahalla." (Mashallah from Basra, Iraq "As a young man he participated in the founding of Baghdad in 762 by working with a group of astrologers led by Naubakht the Persian to pick an electional horoscope for the founding of the city.") - Wikipedia

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