760 – 1258
The House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikma) was a library, translation institute and research centre established in Abbasid-era Baghdad, Iraq. It was founded by Caliph Harun al-Rashid and culminated under his son al-Ma’mun. Many learned scholars including those of Persian or Christian background were part of this research and educational institute. Besides translating books to Arabic and preserving them, scholars associated with the House of Wisdom also made many remarkable original contributions to diverse fields.
During the reign of al-Ma’mun, observatories were set up, and the House was an unrivalled centre for the study of humanities and science, including mathematics, astronomy, medicine, alchemy, chemistry, zoology, geography and cartography. Drawing on Indian, Greek, and Persian texts, the scholars accumulated a great collection of world knowledge, and built on it through their own discoveries. By the middle of the ninth century, the House of Wisdom was the largest repository of books in the world.