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An astrolabe from the eleventh century that has Arabic, Hebrew and Western numbers scripture demonstrates the close cooperation of several faiths and civilisations. Dr Federica Gigante of the University of Cambridge talks about this scientific device in a recent paper. She found it through a picture that was posted to a Verona, Italy, museum.

The museum, unaware of the astrolabe's existence and suspecting it might be a fake, was contacted by Dr. Gigante, an authority on Islamic astrolabes. She realised she had something unique when she got a chance to look at it in person. "I saw that the astrolabe was covered in exquisitely engraved Arabic inscriptions, but I could also make out faint Hebrew inscriptions when I studied it up close at the museum," the woman says.

Because they made it possible for mankind to successfully navigate and make astronomical measurements, Astrolabes played a crucial role in history. Among their many additional abilities include the ability to determine the local time, assist with calendar setup, and provide latitude location. This specific astrolabe seems to have belonged to several owners, as it has been enhanced over time with additions in Hebrew and Latin. Dr. Gigante concluded that the astrolabe is Andalusian after looking at the engraving technique and scale arrangement on the back. She specifically linked it to the instruments made in Al-Andalus, the region of Spain governed by Muslims, in the eleventh century. She thinks Toledo is where it was manufactured because of the inscriptions. 

At the time, the city was a cultural hotspot for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, thus it seems fitting that the astrolabe be created there.

A second plate with common North African latitudes suggests the astrolabe was used in Morocco or Egypt at one point. The instrument has several interesting features, including the inscription of Muslim prayer lines and names, which, when placed at specific times, demonstrate how the astrolabe also helped users track when to recite their daily prayers.

The Hebrew inscriptions, added by multiple hands, provide proof that the astrolabe was passed between hands. According to Gigante, "these Hebrew translations and additions suggest that at some point, the object left Spain or North Africa and circulated among the Jewish diaspora community in Italy, where Hebrew was used instead of Arabic because Arabic was not understood." The 12th century saw a sizable Jewish community in Verona, and it seems that it found its way there. It eventually found its way into the Veronese nobleman Ludovico Moscardo's collection before being married into the Miniscalchi family. This is how it ended up in the family collection's preservation facility, Fondazione Museo Miniscalchi-Erizzo in Verona.

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