al-Hasan Banu Musa

Quick Info

about 810
Baghdad, Iraq
after 873
Baghdad, Iraq

Al-Hasan Banu Musa was one of the three Bana Musa brothers. He wrote about the ellipse.


The three Banu Musa brothers are almost indistinguishable and most of the information is at THIS LINK. However, there is some information specific to the youngest brother: al-Hasan ibn Musa ibn Shakir.

He wrote The elongated circular figure which is a work on the ellipse. This book is lost except for a fragment in Hebrew of a compilation by Ibn al-Samh. From this fragment Rashed in [3] deduces that al-Hasan had two objectives. One objective was to measure a curved area while the other was to study the geometric properties of curves. Rashed claims, as we have suggested above, that while Archimedes' texts were being translated into Arabic for the first time, the Banu Musa (perhaps al-Hasan in particular) was trying to give new proofs of the Greek results as well as trying to prove results going beyond what the Greeks had achieved.

References (show)

  1. Al-Dabbagh, Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990). See THIS LINK.
  2. D El-Dabbah, The geometrical treatise of the ninth-century Baghdad mathematicians Banu Musa (Russian), in History Methodology Natur. Sci., No. V, Math. Izdat. (Moscow, 1966), 131-139.
  3. Banu Musa, The Encyclopaedia of Islam VII (Leiden, 1993), 640-641.
  4. Banu Musa, Encyclopaedia Iranica III (London, 1989), 716-717.
  5. R Rashed, Archimedean learning in the Middle Ages : the Banu Musa, Historia Sci. (2) 6 (1) (1996), 1-16.
  6. T Sato, Quadrature of the surface area of a sphere in the early Middle Ages - Johannes de Tinemue and Banu Musa, Historia Sci. No. 28 (1985), 61-90.

Additional Resources (show)

Other websites about al-Hasan Banu Musa:

  1. Dictionary of Scientific Biography
  2. MathSciNet Author profile

Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update November 1999