Mobility, Empire and Cross Cultural Contacts in Mongol Eurasia

Qiao Yang

Qiao Yang

Qiao Yang

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Personal Project:

My Ph.D. dissertation aims to examine the role of astronomers and physicians as agents of scientific and medical exchange in the Mongol Eurasia. I approach the question from the perspective of social history and base my analysis on a database of biographies of contemporary professionals, mainly from Yuan China and the Ilkhanate. The dissertation comprises three main chapters: the astronomers and physicians’ professional learning and practice, their social function and social networks, and their role in the process of transmission of scientific knowledge. The study will highlight the scientists’ networks and the political and social circumstances under which astronomical and medical knowledge was transmitted in the Mongol era. My research will contribute to the understanding of the mechanism of scientific and cultural exchange in Mongol Eurasia, studying it in a much deeper and broader scope than what was previously done.

Like Stars in the Sky: Astronomers in Mongol Eurasia

The MA Thesis tried to reconstruct the scholarly networks of astronomers in the Mongol Empire.  Due to their status as  "readers of heaven‘s will", astronomers held lofty standing  in the Mongol world, and left behind quite abundant documentation. The study, based on Chinese, Persian and Arabic sources analyzed the social background and connections as well as the career patterns of astronomers in Yuan China and Ilkhanid Iran as well as the contacts among those two groups and the difference and similarities between their functioning in the opposite sides of Mongol Eurasia. 



2015- present. Ph.D. studies in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Member of the Presidential Scholarship Program and Asian Sphere Program.

2010-2015. M.A. studies in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Cum Laude). Thesis title: “Like Stars in the Sky: Astronomers in Mongol Eurasia”, supervisor: Prof. Michal Biran.

2007-2008. M.A. studies in the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Rothberg International School, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

2002-2006. B.A., The Arabic Language and Literature, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University (Cum Laude).


“Reading the Yuan Sky: Semu Astronomers and Cultural Exchange in Yuan China [解读元朝的天空——色目天文学家与元代文化交流]”, Journal of the Yuan History (元史论丛), vol. 14, Tianjin guji chubanshe, 2014, pp. 390-401 (Chinese).

“The Chinese Literature in Israel 中国文学在以色列”, published as a chapter in the volume Chinese Literature in Greek and Hebrew of the series The History of the Exchange between the Chinese Literature and Foreign Literatures, ed. By Qian Linsen Shandong Education Publisher, Shandong, 2016 (Chinese).

“Innovative Ways to Teach News-reading Class”, Article Collection on Teaching Method, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2012 (Chinese).


2016: “Scientific Exchange in Mongol Eurasia: Astronomers and Physicians in the Mongol Empire”, presentation of PhD research outline and insights at the Doctoral Students Conference in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies of Israel, Jerusalem.

2014: “As Above, so Below” - Social Mobility of the Ilkhanid Astronomers”, a paper presented at the international conference Mobility and Transformations: New Directions in the Study of the Mongol Empire, Jerusalem.

2013: “The Maragha Star Cluster: Networks, Mobility and Knowledge Transfer of Maragha Astronomers”, a paper presented at the workshop Maragha and its Scholars The Intellectual Culture of Medieval Maragha, ca. 1250-1550, Istanbul.

2013: “The Maragha Observatory: A Center of Knowledge Transfer during the Mongol Empire”, a paper presented at the Symposia Iranica: the Biennial Graduate Conference on Iranian Studies, St. Andrew University, Scotland.

2012: “The Mongol Influence on the Chinese Astronomical Culture”, a paper presented at the International Conference on the State and Society of Yuan, Nankai University, Tianjin.


  • Chinese: complete proficiency (Modern and Classical)
  • Hebrew: complete proficiency
  • English: complete proficiency
  • Classical Arabic: fluent reading skills
  • Modern Persian: fluent reading skills
  • French: fluent reading skills


  • Chinese-Hebrew Picture Dictionary, Shangwu Publication House, Beijing, 2010.
  • My Little Chinese Dictionary (Hebrew Edition), Shangwu Publication House, Beijing, 2010.
  • Modern Chinese Text Book, Exercise Book and Character Exercise Book, Huawen Publication House, Beijing, 2010.

Awards and Scholarships

  • 2015 - present. Presidential Scholarship Program.
  • 2013.  Dean’s list of excellent student, Faculty of Humanities, Hebrew University of       Jerusalem.
  • 2012.  The Netser Prize for Iranian studies.
  • 2012.  The Nehmia Levtzion scholarship for Islamic Studies.
  • 2009.  Yearly Prize of excellent young teacher, Beijing Foreign Studies University.
  • 2008. Golda Meir Fellowship, Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • 2007-2008.   Rothberg Family Scholarship, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • 2006-2007.   Scholarship of Israeli Foreign Office.