Article ID: CBB001210519

Celestial Divination and Arabic Science in Twelfth-Century England: The History of Gerbert of Aurillac's Talking Head (2012)


The legend of Gerbert of Aurillac's oracular head reveals significant information about contemporary medieval attitudes toward foreign knowledge from outside of the Latin Christian West, and in particular about the quadrivium, astral science, and celestial divination. In particular, William of Malmesbury's account---the most well-known in the medieval period---demonstrates the extent to which scientific knowledge from the Arabic tradition had penetrated the intellectual climate of England in the early twelfth century.

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Authors & Contributors
Thomas Freudenhammer
Shi Yunli Zhu Haohao
Yousefi, Najm al-Din
Weill-Parot, Nicolas
Veit, Raphaela
Swetz, Frank J.
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Suhayl: Journal for the History of the Exact and Natural Sciences in Islamic Civilisation
Sudhoffs Archiv: Zeitschrift fuer Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Studies in History of Medicine and Science
Micrologus: Natura, Scienze e Società Medievali
Iranian Studies
Franz Steiner Verlag
Brigham Young University Press
A.K. Peters
Arab/Islamic world, civilization and culture
Transmission of ideas
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Transmission of texts
Divination; prognostication
al-Kindī, Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqub ibn Isḥāq
Sylvester II, Pope
Sa'id ibn Ahmad, al-Andalusi
Isaac Israeli, The Elder
Hunain Ibn Ishaq, Abu Zaid, Al-'Ibadi
Time Periods
13th century
12th century
Early modern
19th century
Persia (Iran)

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