Aydın Sayılı

Aydın Sayılı (pronounced [ajdɯn ˈsajɯɫɯ]; 2 May 1913 – 15 October 1993) was a prominent Turkish historian of science. Sayılı's portrait is depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 5 lira banknote issued in 2009.[1]

Aydın Sayılı
Born2 May 1913
Died15 October 1993(1993-10-15) (aged 80)
Resting placeCebeci Cemetery
Alma materHarvard University
Known forOttoman astronomym
Scientific career
FieldsHistory of Science
InstitutionsAnkara University
Doctoral advisorGeorge Sarton
Doctoral studentsSevim Tekeli

Early life and education

Sayılı was born in Istanbul on 2 May 1913.[2] His parents were Abdurrahman Sayılı (1875–1954) and Suat Sayılı (1889–1951). He had two sisters. Sayılı graduated from Atatürk High School in Ankara in 1933.[2] His career was aided by chance meeting with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, whom he impressed enough to receive a state-supported scholarship to attend Harvard University, where he studied the history of science.[2]

In 1942, Sayılı obtained a PhD degree in history of science at Harvard University under supervision of George Sarton.[3] His PhD thesis focused on the scientific institutions in the Islamic world and represents one of the first PhD theses written on Islamic studies in Harvard University.[2][4]


Sayılı began to work at the department of philosophy at Ankara University in 1943. He became associate professor in 1946 and full professor in 1952. He was promoted to be distinguished professor in 1958.[2] Sayılı retired in 1983, and was appointed the head of the Atatürk Culture Center in 1984. His term lasted until 1993. He also served as member of the Turkish History Society and International Academy of History of Science.[2]


In 1973, Aydın Sayılı was awarded by the Polish government with the Copernicus Medal for his work on the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.[5]

In 1977, he was decorated by the TÜBİTAK Service Award. In 1980 he was selected as a member of the International Editorial Committee of UNESCO. In 1981, he was awarded by Istanbul University the Excellent Service Award and in 1990 he was decorated by the UNESCO Award for his lifetime achievements.[5]


Sayılı died of a heart attack in Ankara on 15 October 1993, aged 80. He was buried at Cebeci Cemetery in Ankara on 18 October 1993.[2]


Sayılı's works have been published in Turkish, English, Arabic and Persian.[5]

  • The Observatory in Islam, Arno Press, June 1981, part of The Development of Science: Sources for the History of Science Series; ISBN 0-405-13951-9
  • Abdülhamid İbn-Türk'ün katışık denklemlerde mantıkî zaruretler adlı yazısı ve zamanın cebri (Logical necessities in mixed equations by ʿAbd al Ḥamîd Ibn Turk and the algebra of his time); reprint of the ed. Ankara, Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, 1962, Inst. for the History of Arab-Islamic Science, Frankfurt am Main, 1997.


  1. Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey Archived 3 June 2009 at WebCite. Banknote Museum: 9. Emission Group - Five Turkish Lira - I. Series Archived 29 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine; retrieved 20 April 2009.
  2. "Aydın Sayılı" (in Turkish). Biography.net. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  3. Russell, G. A. (December 1996). "Eloge: Aydin Sayili, 1913-1993". 87 (4). Isis: 672–675. JSTOR 235199. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. "Aydin Sayili: An intellectual biography". Muslim Heritage. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  5. "Biographies: Aydın Sayılı" (PDF). Turkish Central Bank. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 April 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2012.

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