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News Code: 927


Was A Muslim Scholar The First To Discover America?

For centuries, the world has given Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus to be the man who discovered the Americas (never mind the people who already lived there).
However, new research shows that Central Asian Muslim scholar Abu Raihan al-Biruni discovered the continent centuries before Columbus.  This theory was proposed in around 1037, by which point al-Biruni would have been 70 years old, and perhaps too old to travel it himself.
Writing in History Today, S. Frederick Starr says al-Biruni, born in Iran was the first person to officially suggest that a landmass exisited other than Europe and Asia. Al-Biruni's expertise on geography and mapping led him to conclude that Europe, Africa and Asia, only accounted for two-fifths of the world.
Starr writes that al-Biruni's knowledge of both Middle-Eastern and Indian languages, as well as being trained in mathematics, astronomy, mineralogy, geography, cartography, geometry and trigonometry under great scholars like Ahmad al-Farghani, gave him deep insight into the sciences of various fields and civilizations. Al-Biruni also mapped the latitudinal and longitudinal locations of various cities in central Asia, India, the Middle-East and the Mediterranean.
Al-Biruni was one of the most important figures in developing Greek science. The work of al-Biruni's teacher al-Farghani, is thought to be the basis for Columbus's own explorations.  Al-Biruni also provided an estimation of the earth's circumference, only off by 10.44 miles from modern measurements.
Source: Illume Magazine