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Geography and cartography in medieval Islam

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Title: Geography and cartography in medieval Islam  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Islamic geography, Islamic Golden Age, Islamic studies, Proto-globalization, Piri Reis
Collection: Islamic Geography, Islamic Golden Age
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Geography and cartography in medieval Islam

Muslim geography was based on Hellenistic geography and reached its apex with Muhammad al-Idrisi in the 12th century.

After its beginnings in the 8th century based on Hellenistic geography,[1] Islamic geography was patronized by the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad. Various Islamic scholars contributed to its development, and the most notable include Al-Khwārizmī, Abū Zayd al-Balkhī (founder of the 'Balkhī school') and Abu Rayhan Biruni.

Islamic cartographers inherited Ptolemy's Almagest and Geographia in the 9th century which is said to have stimulated an interest in geography and map-making, however, they made almost no direct use of the latter in map-making.[2] The way in which earlier knowledge reached Muslim scholars is crucial. For example, since Muslims inherited Greek writings directly without the influence of the Latin west, T-O maps play no role in Islamic cartography though popular in the European counterpart.[2] Muslim scientists then made many of their own contributions to geography and the earth sciences. In the 11th century, Uyghur scholar Mahmud al-Kashgari was the first to draw an ethnographic map of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. Later (post-medieval) developments took place under the Ottoman Empire, with notable cartographer Piri Reis.


  • Gallery 1
  • See also 2
  • Notes and references 3
  • External links 4


See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Gerald R. Tibbetts, The Beginnings of a Cartographic Tradition, in: John Brian Harley, David Woodward: Cartography in the Traditional Islamic and South Asian Societies, Chicago, 1992, pp. 90–107 (97-100), ISBN 0-226-31635-1
  2. ^ a b Edson & Savage-Smith 2004, pp. 61–63.
  3. ^ (Miya 2006; Miya 2007)
  • Alavi, S. M. Ziauddin (1965), Arab geography in the ninth and tenth centuries, Aligarh: Aligarh University Press
  • Edson, Evelyn; Savage-Smith, Emilie (2004). Savage-Smith, Emilie, ed. Medieval Views of the Cosmos. Oxford:  
  • King, David A. (1983), "The Astronomy of the Mamluks",  
  • King, David A. (2002), "A Vetustissimus Arabic Text on the Quadrans Vetus", Journal for the History of Astronomy 33: 237–255 
  • King, David A. (December 2003), "14th-Century England or 9th-Century Baghdad? New Insights on the Elusive Astronomical Instrument Called Navicula de Venetiis",  
  • King, David A. (2005), In Synchrony with the Heavens, Studies in Astronomical Timekeeping and Instrumentation in Medieval Islamic Civilization: Instruments of Mass Calculation,  
  • McGrail, Sean (2004), Boats of the World,  
  • Mott, Lawrence V. (May 1991), , ThesisThe Development of the Rudder, A.D. 100-1337: A Technological Tale, Texas A&M University
  • Rashed, Roshdi; Morelon, Régis (1996),  
  • Sezgin, Fuat (2000), Geschichte Des Arabischen Schrifttums X–XII: Mathematische Geographie und Kartographie im Islam und ihr Fortleben im Abendland, Historische Darstellung, Teil 1–3 (in German), Frankfurt am Main 

External links

  • "How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs" by De Lacy O'Leary
  • Islamic Geography in the Middle Ages
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