THE MATHEMATICIAN AL-TUSI
NOTE: For a synopsis of this document and more information about the history of Alamut please refer to my Index to the History of Alamut.
Nasir al-Din Tusi was born in Tus in Persia. A mathematician, astrologer, astronomer and a philosopher. A member of the Shi'ite sect, though educated by a Sunni teacher, al-Tusi was "kidnapped" by the Isma'ilis and sent to Alamut where he remained until its capture by the Mongols in A.D. 1256. He somehow managed to disassociate himself from his Ismaili taint and entered the service of the new Mongol lords of the Abbasid Caliphate.
Al-Tusi became astrologer to the Isma'ili governor Nasir ad-Din 'Abd ar-Rahim. He attempted to join the caliph's court at Baghdad but was imprisoned in the castle of Alamut, a fortress which was the headquarters of the terrorist Assassins. In 1256 Al-Tusi betrayed the defences to the invading Mongols who he joined. He was rewarded by Ilkhanid dynast Hulagu with the construction of a fine observatory! This observatory al-Tusi built at Meragha and it became operational in 1262.
Interestingly the Persians were assisted by Chinese astronomers in the construction of the observatory. It had various instruments such as a 4 metre wall quadrant made from copper and an azimuth quadrant which was the invention of al-Tusi himself. Al-Tusi also designed other instruments for the Observatory.
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