Filtering of scientific knowledge from the Islamic world to Europe

The conquest of the Eastern Empire by the Arabs meant that Western Christendom was deprived of the main reservoir of Greek learning for centuries by intolerance and mutual suspicion of opposing creeds, as well as the breadth of the Mediterranean Sea (Crombie, 1963). But as early as the end of the tenth century knowledge had began filtering from the Islamic world to the West. Thompson (1929) in his article “The Introduction of Arabic Science into Lorraine in the Tenth Century” discussed the question of Arabic science being introduced in the schools of Lorraine as early as the end of the tenth century and thereby into Latin Europe. Thus an intellectual avenue through Spain to Europe beyond the Pyrenees was opened by the expansion of the Islamic Empire across North Africa.

Throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in Spain and Sicily, the transmission of scientific knowledge continued with the establishment of an Arabic-Latin translation program. In Sicily after the Norman kingdom was established in 1060, its Latin, Greek and Muslim subjects lived in more favourable conditions than those in Spain (Crombie, 1963) for the growth of intercultural and intellectual exchange. Here the knowledge of antiquity was rediscovered in its original Greek versions and the major developments recorded in Arabic that were subsequently translated into Latin (Burnett, 2001; Schramm: 2001), in corners of Europe prior to the Renaissance.