David Pingree

David Edwin Pingree ( January 2, 1933, New Haven, Connecticut, † November 11, 2005 in Providence, Rhode Iceland ) was an American mathematics and science historian and orientalist.

Life and work

Pingree graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts ( completion 1950) and then at Harvard University classical philology and Sanskrit (which he already learned in Andover, self-study, but he was also an Arabist, read Persian and Babylonian cuneiform texts), with a Bachelor degree " magna cum laude" 1954. 1954 / 55 he studied manuscripts in the library of the Vatican with a Fulbright Fellowship. 1957/1958, he traveled for the first time to India with a Ford Fellowship, where he deepened his studies and Sanskrit manuscripts studied. In 1960 he received his doctorate at Harvard University with Daniel Ingalls and Otto Neugebauer with a thesis on the influence of Hellenistic astrology in India. After that, he was a professor at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago ( where Neugebauer sent him to study Babylonian texts ) before brought him Otto Neugebauer in 1971 as his successor ( Neugebauer went in 1969 to retirement ) as a professor of the history of mathematics at Brown University. In 1986, he was there the Faculty Board. In 1968/69 and 1978/79 he was at the Institute for Advanced Study. 1981 to 1986 he was also A.D. White Professor - at-Large at Cornell University.

Throughout his life he was by an impaired vision Disabled (he was blind in one eye and had to the other only 20 percent vision ).

Pingree was away interested in how from Babylonia to Greece, from Greece in the Islamic world, from the Islamic world to India and from India to Western Europe in the Middle Ages in particular in the transmission of mathematical and astronomical knowledge across cultural boundaries. In 1963 he published a paper in the journal Isis, in which he expounded to the 4th century arguments for a direct translation of Greek texts in the 2nd AD in India. He has published 43 books and monographs and over 240 scientific journal articles. His five -volume directory of Sanskrit manuscripts with scientific content ( Census of the Exact Sciences in Sanskrit) appeared in 1970 until 1994. He also worked with the Vienna Assyriologists Hermann Hunger in the publication of Babylonian astronomical texts together (such as the MUL.APIN cuneiform text of the British Museum, 1989). With him he also wrote Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia (1999)

He was a Junior Fellow at Harvard, 1975 Guggenheim Fellow and 1981 MacArthur Fellow. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Oriental Society. He was made an honorary Doctor of the University of Chicago in 1992.

His extensive private library ( over 22,000 volumes and various manuscripts ) was purchased from Brown University in 2007.

His doctoral counts Kim Plofker.


  • With Erica Reiner: Babylonian Planetary Omens. Brill, Leiden, 2005.
  • Census of the Exact Sciences in Sanskrit. 5 volumes, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, from 1970.
  • With Takanori Kusuba: Arabic Astronomy in Sanskrit: Al Birjandī on Tadhkira II, Chapter 11 and Its Sanskrit Translation. Brill, Leiden, 2002.
  • With Neugebauer: The Pancasiddhantika of Varahamihira. Copenhagen 1970 /71.
  • With Hermann Hunger: Mul.Apin. Archive for Oriental Research 1989
  • With hunger: Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia. Handbook of Oriental Studies Bd.44, Brill 1999
  • History of Mathematical Astronomy in India, Dictionary of Scientific Biography