The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford has purchased the medieval Arabic manuscript Kitab Gharaib al-funun wa-mulah al-uyun popularised under the title the Book of Curiosities, an exceptionally rich text on cosmography. The treatise is one of the most important recent finds in the history of Islamic cartography in particular, and for the history of pre-modern cartography in general. The manuscript, a highly illustrated treatise on astronomy and geography compiled by an unknown author between 1020 and 1050, contains an important and hitherto unknown series of colourful maps, giving unique insight into Islamic concepts of the world. Portions of the text are preserved in later copies, but the copy owned by the Bodleian library is the only nearly complete coy and the one to have been extensively studied and released in an electronic edition which represents a model for online publishing of Arabic original manuscripts. This high-quality digital reproduction includes interactive displays, through mouse-over techniques, as well as access to a modern Arabic edition and an annotated English translation.
The Book of Curiosities or A Medieval Islamic View of the Cosmos
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Figure 1. The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by al-Idrisi for Roger II of Sicily in 1154, one of the most advanced ancient world maps. Modern consolidation, created from the 70 double-page spreads of the original atlas. (Source)
Figure 1: Muslim expansion by the end of Umayyad rule in 750. (Source).
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