Discovering Math at the Alhambra in Al-Andalusia


16 Feb 2010

Mathematics, Geometry

This brief clip suggests another use for the trigonometry and geometry that were developed among Muslims in the medieval period.  It uses as an example the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain.  The geographic region was called al-Andalus.  The current palace dates to the mid-13th century.  It is presently a major tourist attraction.

The video shows a few examples of tiles, but is too brief to explain any of the mathematics involved.


“Muslims abstain from painting figures of humans and animals” is inaccurate.  These representations are rarely found im mosques, but are often found elsewhere.  However, complex geometrical patterns are often found in Islamic art.  The designs are not only “Arabic”, but found throughout the Islamic world, as well as other cultural spheres.

The presentation on the use of trigonometry and geometry in designing and planning the tile work in Alhambra is accurate, although the video is too brief to do anything other than merely mention trigonometry and geometry.

There is no such thing as a “lost” golden age of Islam.   This sort of construction distances a “glorious” past from the present, which should be avoided.  There are multiple cultural high points across the Islamic lands; the Alhambra is only one material example.