S. Frederick Starr Examines 400 Years of Overlooked Genius: Central Asia's 'Lost Enlightenment'
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May 29, 2014
Rarely has history seen a more impressive and sustained display of intellect than that of medieval Central Asia, which between the years 800 and 1200 led the world in trade and economic development, the sophistication of its cities, and advances in disciplines ranging from mathematics and astronomy to music and philosophy.
S. Frederick Starr examines this period of enlightenment and its worldwide impact in a discussion of his book, Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The spectacular Central Asian accomplishments of that era are largely unrecognized because nearly all of the region's leading intellectuals wrote in Arabic and long were assumed to be Arabs. In fact, they were from a region that today extends from Kazakhstan southward through Afghanistan and from the easternmost province of Iran through Xinjiang, China.
These nearly-forgotten geniuses gave algebra its name, calculated the earth's diameter with unprecedented precision, wrote the books that later defined European medicine, and penned some of the world's greatest poetry. One scholar working in Afghanistan even predicted the existence of North and South America - five centuries before Columbus' historic expedition.
Their writings influenced European culture from the time of St. Thomas Aquinas to the scientific revolution, and had a similarly profound impact in India and much of Asia.
A classical archaeologist, Starr is founding chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, which is affiliated with the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He was president of Oberlin College from 1983-94.
Admission to the event is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes it. RSVP at kclibrary.orgor call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore.