Name of Object:



Los Angeles, United States of America

Holding Museum:

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)


Hegira 624 / AD 1226–27

Type of object:

Tools and Equipment

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Gilt copper alloy


Overall: 21.3 x 13.97 x 2.9 cm

Period / Dynasty:





The astrolabe is an astronomical instrument device that Muslims inherited from the Hellenistic world and then passed on to medieval Europe. According to its inscriptions, this handsome gilt brass astrolabe was made in Seville, in southern Spain. Like all such instruments, it was designed to measure the altitude of the stars, sun or moon, and to establish different astronomical and topographical associations without resorting to calculations or formulas. It was especially valuable for timekeeping, as the Muslim times of prayer are astronomically determined. In addition to being functional, the astrolabe was also intended to be beautiful. This example is unusual in that it seems to have been altered nearly 70 years after it was made, possibly in Egypt or Syria; Seville had by that time already fallen to the Christian reconquest.

Citation of this web page:

 "Astrolabe" in Explore Islamic Art Collections , Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;EPM;us;Mus21;15;en&id=scientific_objects

MWNF Working Number: US1 15

Related Content

 Artistic Introduction

Islamic Dynasties / Period

On display in

MWNF Galleries


As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)