• Yunus Emre Institute

Humans of the Ottoman Empire: Scientists Successfully Continues Series

Dr. Harun Küçük And Dr. Cengiz Sisman Discuss Scientists In The Ottoman Empire

Washington D.C. - On March 11th, the Yunus Emre Institute in Washington D.C. welcomed nearly a hundred guests to the second edition of the Humans of the Ottoman Empire series on Scientists. The event was moderated by Dr. Cengiz Sisman, an expert in Ottoman culture, and led by Dr. Harun Küçük, who is an expert on science in the Ottoman Empire. The two academicians shared a discussion with the audience about the long and storied history of scientific developments throughout the Ottoman Empire.

Dr. Küçük charted the evolution of natural philosophy into modern science in the Ottoman Empire from medieval philosophers to more practical engineering academies at the end of the empire. He taught the audience about the astronomers, medical doctors, and engineers who were serving the people in the empire. He drew the similarities and differences between Ottoman and western European scientists as their scientific traditions emerged over the course of the Early Modern period. He explained that Ottoman science does not have a strong reputation because of a lack of dedicated theorists in the Ottoman tradition creating the body of writing and education that can be found in western European history. It turns out Ottoman scientists were practicing the same medicine, engineering, and so on in the empire as what was famously developing in western Europe at the same time. For example, the Ottomans were on the cutting edge of inoculating people for smallpox when scientists in countries like the U.K. were still skeptical of its effectiveness.

To end the lecture, Dr. Sisman asked Dr. Küçük a few of the guests’ questions that they posed during the webinar. For instance, one guest wanted to understand the connection between astrology and Ottoman science. Dr. Küçük explained that they were only loosely connected because astrology in the Ottoman Empire existed separately from scientific developments. Another guest was curious about the history of the printing press in the Ottoman Empire. Dr. Küçük addressed the question by talking about how the printing press was not as important for spreading knowledge as libraries were. He also elaborated that the mechanism for the printing press was very similar to the mechanism that would press coins at that point in time. Dr. Sisman concluded the event by thanking the guests for attending this fascinating discussion and posing their questions to the hosts.

Unfortunately, the event’s live stream was interrupted by a power outage. Viewers who were unable to watch the event live will be able to find a recording on Yunus Emre Institute’s YouTube channel later this week.

Yunus Emre Institute is a Turkish cultural center located in Washington, D.C. and around the world. The institute hosts events and programs that educate the public about Turkey’s culture, history, and language. For more information about the institute’s mission or online programs, please email washingtondc@yee.org.tr or follow @yeewdc on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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