“Confirmed by Experiment”: Notes on Physics Instruments and Experimentation in 19th-Century Istanbul (1809-1876) Bi’t-tecrübe İsbât: On Dokuzuncu Yüzyıl İstanbul’unda Deney ve Fizik Aletleri Üzerine Notlar (1809-1876)

Günergun F.

Osmanli Bilimi Arastirmalari, vol.24, no.2, pp.743-799, 2023 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.26650/oba.232413
  • Journal Name: Osmanli Bilimi Arastirmalari
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Central & Eastern European Academic Source (CEEAS), Index Islamicus, Directory of Open Access Journals, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.743-799
  • Keywords: Darülfünun, Experiment, Experimentation, History of Education, Mekteb-i Harbiye, Mekteb-i Sultani, Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-yi Şahane, Mühendishane-i Berri-i Hümayun, Ottoman Empire, Physics Instruments
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


The present study examines the emergence of experimentation in the Ottoman schools of engineering, medicine, and military arts that were founded in Istanbul to teach modern sciences, as well as in Mekteb-iSultani, an Ottoman-French secondary school. The study also addresses how the Istanbul population encountered experiments through the public conferences organized at Darülfünun [House of Sciences] that opened in 1863. This article also questions the fate of experimentation in Darülfünun-i Osmani, which was established in 1870. The students in these institutions first encountered experiments in the Turkish translations of European physics textbooks. Because demonstrations (bi’t-tecrübe ispat) depend on the availability of scientific instruments, didactic instruments were purchased from European instrument makers in order to establish cabinets of physics in these schools. However, the scarcity of archival documents related to imported instruments and the absence of collections render making a full assessment of experimental teaching in Istanbul’s educational institutions difficult. The present article is introductory in nature, and future research on instruments purchased for Ottoman secondary schools and the collections kept in non-Muslim schools of the Empire will surely provide a greater picture.