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Before the Portolan Charts: Navigation and Maritime Spaces in the Fatimid Book of Curiosities - by Dr Yossef Rapoport

The talk will examine the earliest textual account of navigation that has come to us from any medieval Muslim source: the diagrams of seas, islands and bays in the Fatimid Book of Curiosities. The maps of the Mediterranean and Cyprus, as well as a diagram of the Bays of Byzantium, contain rich details of navigation along the coasts, including the quality and size of harbours, sailing distances, water sources and wind directions. This paper will outline the significance of these diagrams in the context of the Mediterranean as a shared (and contested) space, highlighting the differences between these images and the European portolan charts of the later Middle Ages.

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Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies