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Lost Maps of the CaliphsDrawing the World in Eleventh-Century Cairo$
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Yossef Rapoport and Emilie Savage-Smith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226540887

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226553405.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 November 2021

The Fatimid Mediterranean

The Fatimid Mediterranean

(p.181) Chapter Seven The Fatimid Mediterranean
Lost Maps of the Caliphs

Yossef Rapoport

Emilie Savage-Smith

University of Chicago Press

This chapter considers the contribution of the Book of Curiosities to our conceptualisation of the medieval Mediterranean as a shared maritime space. The Book of Curiosities is a rare example of a medieval Islamic treatise that has the Mediterranean maritime space as its centre of attention and as a subject of detailed familiarity. From a Fatimid perspective, the Mediterranean effectively encompassed only the eastern half, bounded in the west by an imaginary line drawn between Mahdia and Sicily. The western half, including the coasts of Western Europe and North Africa, belonged to a different maritime sphere, even if acknowledged to be part of the same great sea. On the other hand, the Mediterranean of the Book of Curiosities is as Byzantine as it is Muslim. The Byzantine southern coasts of Anatolia, the coasts of the Aegean and many of its islands, as well as Cyprus, are described with as much detail as the Egyptian or Syro-Palestinian coasts under Fatimid control. There is also evidence of shared maritime technology and Greek navigation terminology. While religious divisions would lead us to expect a north-south divide, the Book of Curiosities presents an east-west rift, with an integrated Greek and Arabic eastern Mediterranean.

Keywords:   Mediterranean, Byzantium, Fatimid Empire, navigation, North Africa, Braudel, Aegean, Cyprus, Maritime space

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