Astrolabe Shows Human Cooperation

Astrolabe Shows Human Cooperation
A disassembled 18th century astrolabe

The astrolabe, an astronomical instrument of ancient times, is a testament to human ingenuity and cooperation. It is a two-dimensional map of the universe, typically crafted from plates. Astrolabes, with their star charts and analog calculation capabilities, were not just tools but gateways to understanding the cosmos. In mosques, they were used to calculate the time of sunset or sunrise, thus the time of prayer. People also used them to calculate distances, the position of stars, and the location of latitudes and longitudes. With its intricate design and multifaceted functionality, the astrolabe shows human cooperation.

Federica Gigante, a historian at the University of Cambridge, found the plates of an eleventh-century astrolabe in the vaults of the Museum of the Miniscalchi-Erizzo Foundation in Verona, Italy. The astrolabe she discovered was made of brass and had Arabic engravings. It had a second plate, which meant it had been taken to a different latitude than its Spanish place of origin.

What is interesting about this astrolabe is that it also has Hebrew letters engraved on the plates, indicating their use by Jewish owners, and it was in the archives of a Christian museum. This astrolabe shows human cooperation. It means there was an era in which Muslims, Jews, and Christians built upon one another’s intellectual achievements. All cultures had people with incredible minds who contributed to human knowledge of what the cosmos is about and how we can observe it.

In our day of religious wars between these same groups, it is incredible that humans don’t have the sense to realize the importance of understanding each other and working together to discover Truth. Jesus gave a great answer to this conflict in John 14 when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me… If you love me, keep my commandments… even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it has not seen Him and does not know Him, for He dwells in you and shall be in you.” Think of the progress the world could make if we could work together and follow the commandments of Jesus given so clearly in Matthew 5:21-25 and 38-48.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Verona astrolabe on