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In the biography of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1273), among other sources, we learn that:

The observatory at Maragheh (Persia) became operational in 1262. The Persians were assisted by Chinese astronomers in the construction and operation of the observatory.

This collaboration was initiated by Mongolians, who were ruling both China and Persia at the time.

Was it the first specific-purpose-driven international research institution (like CERN these days) or was there anything similar before?

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    What exactly – or: 'specifically' ;) – do you mean with "specific-purpose-driven international research institution"? My guess so far: The academy, the library at Alexandria etc do not count, because they were too 'unspecific'? Not MINT enough? Bologna uni was from ~1088 and like any uni today pretty 'international'? Please clarify your terminology & criteria. Feb 6 '20 at 0:29
  • @LаngLаngС : would "one discipline, preferably specific task(s) within this discipline, and international team as part of institution design, from the beginning" be a good one? Or maybe you could think of a better alternative - happy to get the counter-offers :)
    – Yulia V
    Feb 6 '20 at 1:48
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    Since this was all done by the Mongol Empire was it actually international? If that counts, then the buildings built to observe the stars by various empires of ancient Mesopotamia would also qualify. And certainly Alexander the Great's empire subsidized research in Athens for a time -- there are records of him sending an elephant to Aristotle, for instance. I fear that this is just one more case of historical events and figures being crammable into modern concepts to some degree and ultimately trying to draw a line on a continuum.
    – Mark Olson
    Feb 6 '20 at 2:04
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    This counts as a valid answer to me. I did not know about the scientific projects you had mentioned. Having said it, collaboration with an elephant does not count :)
    – Yulia V
    Feb 6 '20 at 2:06
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    The definition of "international" may be tricky, as "nations" at the time were way looser than the nation-state that appeared during the Modern Age, as were national allegiances. And those Chinese astronomers could have been hired on their own, without intervention from the local Chinese rulers.
    – SJuan76
    Feb 6 '20 at 11:28

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