Silk Road Trade & Travel Encyclopedia

Interesting Facts & Trivia

28 - QUESTION:  Who built the famous 15th century observatory in Central Asia?

Answer:  Ulugh Beg.

Ulugh Beg (1393 - 1449) was a Timurid ruler as well as an astronomer and mathematician. He built the great observatory in Samarkand between 1424 and 1429, during the rise of the Timurid Empire which conquered Asia from Egypt and Syria to the borders of China. Ulugh Beg, born in Sultaniyeh Iran, was the grandson of the conqueror, Timur (Tamerlane, 1336–1405), and the oldest son of Shah Rukh. He settled in Samarkand, which had been the Timurid capital. The Ulugh Beg observatory played a unique role in the development of  Islamic Sciences and the transmission of knowledge across Central Asia. Previously, during the Mongol-Yuan Dynasty, Islamic astronomers collaborated closely with their Chinese colleagues. Islamic astronomy (or Arab astronomy) refers to the astronomical developments made in the Islamic world, particularly during the Islamic Golden Age (8th–15th centuries). These developments mostly took place in the Middle East, Central Asia, Al-Andalus in Spain, North Africa, and later in the Far East and India. 

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