Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ALFA (Shaping a European Scientific Scene : Alfonsine Astronomy)
Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2020-08-31
Alfonsine astronomy is arguably among the first important scientific achievements in Europe. It shaped a scene for actors like Bianchini, Regiomontanus or Copernicus. There is however little detailed historical analysis encompassing the full breadth of its development. ALFA seeks to fill this lacuna by studying tables, instruments, mathematical and theoretical texts in methodologically innovative ways, drawing on approaches from history of astronomy, history of mathematics, history of manuscript cultures, and digital humanities.
ALFA integrates these approaches not only to benefit from different perspectives but also to pose new questions from their interactions. Hence ALFA pursues three main objectives in three distinct phases of the project:
* Retrace the development of the corpus of Alfonsine texts from its origin in the second half of the 13th century to the 16th century by examining, on the manuscript level, the milieus fostering it;
* Analyse Alfonsine astronomers’ practices, their relations to mathematics, the natural world, proofs and justification, their intellectual contexts and audiences;
* Build a synthetic narrative showing how astronomers in different milieus with diverse practices shaped, also from Arabic materials, an original scientific scene in Europe.
Working in a deeply collective manner (more than 175 have been presented by 66 differents scholars) we have pursued four main tasks with respect to our first objectives:
1. A survey of Alfonsine manuscripts and texts that considerably enrich and refine the knowledge of this corpus (now around 600 manuscripts, attesting more than 300 works from around a 100 different authors). This survey will be available as an open digital source.
2. Expanded description of about 20 manuscripts analysing the material, graphical and intellectual feature of the sources and revealing different contexts for various types of astronomical practices. This expanded manuscript description will be available as an open digital source
3. Multiple studies and critical editions of some key works of the Alfonsine traditions are in preparation and will be published
4. A first collective book is scheduled for publication with Brepols in 2021.
Initiating the second phase of our project we have created, with partner projects, DISHAS a Digital Information Systems for the History of Astral Sciences. This platform will allow in depth and collaborative edition and analysis of astronomical tables. We have also started a dedicated seminar since 2019 dedicated to the mathematical practices of Alfonsine astronomers