The Royal Asiatic Society presents:
Lost Enlightenment: central Asia’s golden age from the Arab conquest to Tamerlane
by S. Frederick Starr
Many think of Central Asia today as a desolate, dusty, backwater region inhospitable to learning, high culture, thriving cities, or robust commerce. But as S. Frederick Starr, former president of the Aspen Institute, conveys in his sweeping and richly illustrated new book LOST ENLIGHTENMENT: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, Central Asia had its own age of flourishing between 800 and 1200 C.E., with its effects still rippling through the modern era.
Recreating the world of Silk Road era Central Asia for the reader, Starr reveals this largely unknown story through the eventful lives and astonishing accomplishments of its greatest minds. This vast region—stretching from modern day Kazakhstan southward through Afghanistan, and from the easternmost province of Iran through Xinjiang, China—at the time led the world in trade and economic development, the size and sophistication of its cities, the refinement of its arts, and above all, in the advancement of knowledge in many fields. Central Asians achieved signal breakthroughs in astronomy, mathematics, geology, medicine, chemistry, music, social science, philosophy, and theology, among other subjects. They 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.
Introduction by Alison Otha (Director, Royal Asiatic Society):