Ahead Of Their Time

THE NASSER D. KHALILI COLLECTION OF ISLAMIC ART, LONDON

WONDERS: A Spanish golden astrolabe made in 1300

These days, the Arab world is too often associated only with despotism, terrorism and a rejection of all things Western. That notion is reinforced by media images of young, mainly Arab rioters setting the working-class suburbs of Paris afire. But in the center of the French capital, another view of Arab life unfolds, one that is rich, open-minded and full of achievement in astronomy, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and medicine. A fascinating show at The Institute of the Arab World, the "Golden Age of Arab Sciences," concentrates on the period between the 8th and 15th centuries, when most of Europe was struggling...

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