The opening chapter presents a somewhat personal account of the ‘discovery’ of the manuscript in 2000 and its subsequent purchase by the Bodleian Library in 2002, made possible by the support of the (UK) Heritage Lottery Fund and other generous donors, including the (UK) National Art Collections Fund. Details of the manuscript’s paper, inks, and pigments are provided, and evidence for dating the copy (Egypt, around 1200) as well as the composition of the treatise itself (also Egypt, between 1020 and 1050). The chapter concludes with a ‘debate’ between the two authors (Y. Rapoport and E. Savage-Smith) as to whether or not the circular world map in our copy of the Book of Curiosities is evidence that the famous ‘Idrisi World Map’ in fact was not by Idrisi but preceded him by some hundred years.
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