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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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A Musk Road to China

A Musk Road to China

(p.197) Chapter Eight A Musk Road to China
Lost Maps of the Caliphs

Yossef Rapoport

Emilie Savage-Smith

University of Chicago Press

The maps of the Book of Curiosities demonstrate the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean, and of the tenth-century Ismaʿili emirates in Sind, to the global ambitions of the Fatimid empire. The maps also contribute to the history of global communications at the turn of the previous millennium, as they highlight a route to China that passed through northern India and Tibet. This chapter examines three separate maps of East and Central Asia: a map of the Indian Ocean, a map of the River Oxus, and a map of the Indus, which also shows localities along the Ganges. This third map of the Indian river systems uniquely depicts an overland itinerary from Muslim Sind, then under Fatimid control, through northern India and then probably through Tibet, to China. Other routes, either the sea route to China through the Straits of Malacca, or the Central Asian Silk Road, are not depicted in such detail, suggesting that by the time the Book of Curiosities was composed the Tibetan route eclipsed its more famous alternatives.

Keywords:   Indian Ocean, Sind, Kannauj, India, Tibet, Silk Road, China, Global history, Fatimid Empire, Indus

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