Hittits-Egyptians, scientific cooperation 2000 years ago

Seminar and exhibition on ties between East and West in Cairo

12 May, 11:06

    (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, MAY 13 - Since the times of the Hittites, approximately two thousand years before the birth of Christ, Egyptians were idealized for their scientific knowledge, to the point that Hittit King Hattusili III once sent an envoy to Pharaoh Ramesse II with this message: "Could you send me one of your doctors to help my sister get pregnant?" Massimiliano Franci, one of the speakers of the Italy-Egypt Science Day, a conference organised to document the close links between the ancient Arab culture and the western one, narrated this story to academics and researchers gathered in Cairo while introducing his archeological and astronomical studies. Franci's research has been published and his book, whose title is 'Egyptian Astronomy' was presented at the conference and translated into Arabic.

    The day was promoted by the Italian Embassy's scientific attache in Cairo, Franco Porcelli, in co-operation with Cultnat (Documentation Centre for Egyptian National Cultural Heritage). Close to the seminar an exhibition called 'Science the common heritage of the Mediterranean" was organised. It showcases rare pictures, ancient Arab instruments and artifacts such as a gilded brass astrolabe dating back to the thirteenth century, a celestial globe which had belonged to Ibn Said as Sahli, cast in brass and dating back to 1084-1085, as well as a replica of Galileo's iconic telescope, the instrument which allowed him to review Copernican theories and and equally significant microscope, owned by Galileo himself, which holds just as much value in the history of the quest for knowledge. The conference stressed the contributions made to Europe medieval civilisation by ancient Egyptian culture and the Islamic world. The speakers underlined the rediscovery of ancient texts rescued from oblivion, such as the studies of Aristotle and many others, which were brought to life by Arab researchers and translaters.

    The astrolobe is one of the most important contributions made by Islamic civilisation in the tenth century, it allowed great progress in mathematics and astronomy and was one of the building blocks for further discoveries in these fields.

    ''It is impossible to ignore that without these discoveries - said one of the speakers- the Italian Renaissance in the fiftheenth century and the birth of modern science in the seventeenth century would have been very different phenomena.

    Maybe they wouldn't have even taken place the way they have". ''That's why - pointed out Franci - it is a big mistake to talk about a conflict of civilisations between Islam and Christianity, between East and West instead of fighting to build on that ancient collaboration which allowed civilisation as we know it to flourish". Franci concluded quoting the answer Ramesse sent to Khattusili (both monarchs are otherwise mostly remembered for the important Qadesh peace treaty): "... with regard to Matanazi, my brother's sister, my royal brother, I do know her, is she 50? Isn't it true?! She must be 60... no one can concoct any medicine for her to have children.... but I will dispatch a good magician and a learned phisician and they will prepare medicines that will make her bear children..." (ANSAmed).

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