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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Astronomical Documents

Editorial project

There are two distinct ways of transmission in pre-modern tradition of astronomy. In literary tradition texts are transmitted in the form of books and treatises mostly as codices which were copied and are kept today in manuscript collections. In documentary tradition single documents were produced for a singular purpose and diposed of after use in different ways. Most of these documents were discovered during the 19th and 20th centuries in legal and illegal excavations in Egypt. Today they are kept in papyrus collections all over the world.

In the present project Arabic astronomical documents in the Vienna Papyrus Collection and in some other collections will be edited and analyzed concerning there position in the history of astronomy. They are predominantly ephemerides, almanachs and horoscopes. They cover a period from the 9th century up to the 19th century.


The package “” contains a tool for searching historical planetary positions and a brief introduction. It is free software under a GNU Affero General Public License. (ZIP, 207 KB)

Weiterführende Informationen

«An Arabic Ephemeris for the Year 931–932 CE» wird im Band «From Nubia to Syria: Documents from the Medieval Muslim World. Proceedings of the 4th Conference of the International Society for Arabic Papyrology, Vienna, March 26-29, 2009.» erscheinen.