The introduction describes briefly the general format and contents of the manuscript, as well as its title. The name of the author remains unknown. After its acquisition in 2002 by the Bodleian Library in Oxford, several much later and mostly unillustrated copies of the treatise were located, and these were employed in the subsequent critical edition and analytic translation of the treatise that was published in 2014. This publication focused upon deciphering the text; it did not include the analysis of the treatise as a whole, either within the context of Fatimid Egyptian society or within the traditions of medieval cartography and astrology. The Lost Maps of the Caliphs provides that wider and contextualized perspective on the eleventh-century Egyptian views of the macrocosm and microcosm that are fundamental to understanding the structure and composition of the Book of Curiosities. A brief history of the Fatimids in North Africa and Egypt is supplied as general background.
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