top of page

Free Reading Passage on the House of Wisdom in Abbasid Baghdad for Unit 1 of AP World History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Jun 12

0

0

0

The House of Wisdom in Abbasid Baghdad is an illustrative example for the Developments in Dar al-Islam section of Unit 1 of AP World History. You could reference this example on your AP World History test.


House of Wisdom
House of Wisdom/public domain


The House of Wisdom, or Bayt al-Hikma in Arabic, was an institution that symbolized the intellectual heart of Baghdad during the Islamic Golden Age. Established in the early 9th century, this renowned library and translation center played a pivotal role in the preservation and expansion of knowledge across the Muslim world and beyond.


The House of Wisdom was established under the patronage of the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid around the late 8th century but truly flourished under his son, Caliph Al-Ma'mun, who reigned from 813 to 833. Al-Ma'mun was particularly passionate about collecting all the world’s knowledge under one roof. He sent emissaries across the known world to gather books, which were then translated into Arabic. The House of Wisdom grew into a vast academy where scholars of different cultures and beliefs could study a wide range of subjects including mathematics, astronomy, medicine, chemistry, geography, philosophy, literature, and the arts.


The primary goal of the House of Wisdom was to gather, preserve, and enhance the cumulative knowledge of human civilizations. Translators, scientists, scholars, and scribes were employed to translate all existing scientific and cultural information into Arabic. This endeavor was not limited to Islamic works; manuscripts from Greek, Persian, Indian, and other cultures were also included, significantly advancing the accumulation of global knowledge.


Scholars at the House of Wisdom also made original contributions to various fields. They improved upon the mathematical knowledge inherited from the Greeks and Indians, developed new astronomical models, and synthesized medical knowledge from across the world into comprehensive texts that would dominate Islamic and European medicine for centuries.


The House of Wisdom was more than just a library; it was an intellectual hub where scholars could collaborate, debate, and conduct research. It attracted thinkers from across the Islamic world and served as a bridge between the past and the future by preserving ancient knowledge and encouraging new discoveries. 


The decline of the House of Wisdom began with the weakening of the Abbasid Caliphate in the 10th century due to internal strife and external pressures, culminating in the Mongol siege of Baghdad in 1258. The city was sacked, and the House of Wisdom suffered extensive damage, effectively marking the end of the institution. Despite its physical destruction, the intellectual legacy of the House of Wisdom would live on through the texts that had been copied and disseminated across different parts of the world.



Printable Reading Passage on the House of Wisdom



House of Wisdom FREE Reading Passage



Would you prefer to watch a video about the House of Wisdom?




Developments in Dar al-Islam from 1200 to 1450


Unit 1:The Global Tapestry


AP World History







the House of Wisdom


#Africa #APWorldHistory #Islam #MamlukSultanate

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Jun 12

0

0

0

Comments
Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page