The Book of Curiosities

Thumbnail from The Book of Curiosities The Book of Curiosities, an 11th-century Egyptian manuscript now scanned and available online at the Bodleian Library’s web site, contains, among other things, the first rectangular map of the world as well as many other maps of the region.

In June 2002, the Bodleian Library acquired a unique manuscript … of a hitherto unknown Arabic cosmographical treatise, the Kitāb Gharāʾib al-funūn wa-mulaḥ al-ʿuyūn, loosely translated as The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes. The manuscript is a copy, probably made in Egypt in the late 12th or early 13th century, of an anonymous work compiled in Egypt during the first half of the 11th century. It is extraordinarily important for the history of science, especially for astronomy and cartography, and contains an unparalleled series of diagrams of the heavens and maps of the earth. No less importantly, both the illustrations and the text preserve material gathered from Muslim astronomers, historians, scholars, and travellers, of the 9th to 11th centuries, whose works are now either lost or preserved only in fragments.

See also the Oxford press release. Thanks to Tom and Paul for the link; see also BibliOdyssey.

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