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House of Wisdom


The House of Wisdom (Arabic: بيت الحكمة‎‎; Bayt al-Hikma) was a major intellectual center during the Islamic Golden Age. The House of Wisdom was founded by Caliph Harun al-Rashid (reigned 786–809) and culminated in prominence under his son al-Ma'mun (reigned 813–833) who is credited with its formal institution. Al-Ma'mun is also credited with bringing many well-known scholars to share information, ideas, and culture in the House of Wisdom. Based in Baghdad from the 9th to 13th centuries, beside Muslim scholars, people of Jewish or Christian background were allowed to study here. Besides translating books into Arabic and preserving them, scholars associated with the House of Wisdom also made many remarkable original contributions to diverse fields.

During the reign of al-Ma'mun, astronomical observatories were set up, and the House was an unrivalled center for the study of humanities and for science in medieval Islam, including mathematics, astronomy, medicine, alchemy and chemistry, zoology, and geography and cartography. Drawing primarily on Greek, but also Syriac, Indian and Persian texts, the scholars accumulated a great collection of world knowledge, and built on it through their own discoveries. By the middle of the ninth century, the House of Wisdom had the largest selection of books in the world.


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