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Muhammad al-Idrisi

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Al-Idrisi (1100-1166) full name Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi was an Arab cartographer, geographer and traveller who lived in Sicily, at the court of King Roger II.

In 1154 al-Idrisi made a large, south-oriented mappa mundi known as the Tabula Rogeriana and an accompanying book, named Geography. Taken together, they were named Nuzhat al-Mushtak by Roger, but Kitab Rudjar ("Roger's Book") by al-Idrisi.

A second, expanded edition was produced in 1161 with the remarkable title The Gardens of Humanity and the Amusement of the Soul, but all copies of it have been lost. An abridged version of this edition, named Garden of Joys -- but usually referred to as the Little Idrisi -- was published in 1192.

The book isn't a perfect historical source, as al-Idrisi (as was common then and for many more centuries) relied on other sources for it. For example, when writing about Poland he has conflated it with the land that is the modern-day Czech Republic, because he wrote about "a country surrounded by mountains".

Last updated: 02-08-2005 16:08:12
Last updated: 02-25-2005 20:37:09