Book ID: CBB359221646

Lost Maps of the Caliphs: Drawing the World in Eleventh-Century Cairo (2018)


Rapoport, Yossef (Author)
Savage-Smith, Emilie (Author)

University of Chicago Press

Publication Date: 2018
Physical Details: 368 pp.
Language: English

About a millennium ago, in Cairo, an unknown author completed a large and richly illustrated book. In the course of thirty-five chapters, this book guided the reader on a journey from the outermost cosmos and planets to Earth and its lands, islands, features, and inhabitants. This treatise, known as The Book of Curiosities, was unknown to modern scholars until a remarkable manuscript copy surfaced in 2000.Lost Maps of the Caliphs provides the first general overview of The Book of Curiosities and the unique insight it offers into medieval Islamic thought. Opening with an account of the remarkable discovery of the manuscript and its purchase by the Bodleian Library, the authors use The Book of Curiosities to re-evaluate the development of astrology, geography, and cartography in the first four centuries of Islam. Their account assesses the transmission of Late Antique geography to the Islamic world, unearths the logic behind abstract maritime diagrams, and considers the palaces and walls that dominate medieval Islamic plans of towns and ports. Early astronomical maps and drawings demonstrate the medieval understanding of the structure of the cosmos and illustrate the pervasive assumption that almost any visible celestial event had an effect upon life on Earth. Lost Maps of the Caliphs also reconsiders the history of global communication networks at the turn of the previous millennium. It shows the Fatimid Empire, and its capital Cairo, as a global maritime power, with tentacles spanning from the eastern Mediterranean to the Indus Valley and the East African coast. As Lost Maps of the Caliphs makes clear, not only is The Book of Curiosities one of the greatest achievements of medieval mapmaking, it is also a remarkable contribution to the story of Islamic civilization that opens an unexpected window to the medieval Islamic view of the world.

Reviewed By

Review Zayde Antrim (2019) Review of "Lost Maps of the Caliphs: Drawing the World in Eleventh-Century Cairo". Imago Mundi: A Review of Early Cartography (pp. 208-209). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Żuchowski, Tadeusz J.
Rathmann, Michael
Ruch, Ralph A.
Hoki, Yu
de Groene, Karen
Katrin Marx-Jaskulski
Imago Mundi: A Review of Early Cartography
Geographia antiqua
Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften
Cartographica Helvetica
Caert-Thresoor: Tijdschrift voor de geschiedenis van de kartografie in Nederland
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg
Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe
Robin Edizioni
Siloé arte y bibliofilia
University of Chicago Press
Maps; atlases
Arab/Islamic world, civilization and culture
Boot, Adrián (d. 1646)
Széchényi, Ferenc (1754-1820)
Beatus, Romanus
Vespucci, Amerigo
Gyger, Hans Konrad
Time Periods
15th century
Early modern
17th century
Mexico, Valley of (Mexico)
Middle and Near East
Cairo (Egypt)
Mediterranean region

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