Event: Lost Maps of the Caliphs

Date And Time

Thu, 9 May 2019, 18:00 BST


Atrium Conference Room

Aga Khan Centre

10 Handyside Street



United Kingdom

About a millennium ago, an unknown author in Fatimid Cairo completed a large and LostMaps1_richly illustrated book. In the course of thirty-five chapters, this book guides the reader on a journey from the outermost cosmos and planets to Earth and its lands, islands, features and inhabitants. This treatise, known as The Book of Curiosities, was unknown to modern scholars until a remarkable manuscript copy surfaced in 2000. The manuscript turned out to be one of the most important discoveries in the history of cartography in recent decades. It is one of the greatest achievements of medieval mapmaking, and an unexpected window to the medieval Islamic view of the world.

In this talk, Yossef Rapoport will tell the story of this exceptional manuscript – how it was discovered and why it is so significant. The Book of Curiosities allows us to re-consider the development of astrology, geography and cartography in the first four centuries of Islam, including the transmission of Late Antique geography to the Islamic world, and navigational diagrams before the the introduction of the compass. The treatise also contributes to our understanding the history of global communication networks at the turn of the previous millennium. In particular, it shows the Fatimid Empire, and its capital Cairo, as a global maritime power, with tentacles spanning from the eastern Mediterranean to the Indus Valley and the East African coast.


Yossef Rapoport is a reader in Islamic history at Queen Mary University of London.

Emilie Savage-Smith is a Fellow of the British Academy. She has recently retired as Professor of the History of Islamic Science at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford. She continues as Fellow Archivist of St Cross College.

Click link below to register for this FREE event.



Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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