Cartography between Europe and the Islamic World

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Two volumes in the Chicago History of Cartography series remain fundamental to the histories of European and Islamic maps in the period 1100-1600:

The History of Cartography, volume 1: Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean, ed. J.B. Harley and David Woodward (Chicago, 1987)

The History of Cartography, volume 2.1: Cartography in the Traditional Islamic and South Asian Societies, ed. J.B. Harley and David Woodward (Chicago, 1992)


For early modern maps the more recent History of Cartography, volume 3: Cartography in the European Renaissance, ed. David Woodward (Chicago, 2007), contains important contributions on European cartography 1400-1600.


Although there have been relatively few attempts to correlate work on European and Islamic maps, some recent volumes have sought to include approaches from scholars working on different mapping traditions. See, for example,

Atlas historique du golfe Persique (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles), ed. Z. Biedermann, D. Couto, J.L. Bacqué-Grammont, M. Taleghani (Turnhout, 2006)

Robin Seignobos and Vincent Hiribarren (eds.), Cartographier l’Afrique. Construction, transmission et circulation des savoirs géographiques du Moyen Âge au XIX siècle. Cartes & Géomatique. Revue du comité français de cartographie, Décembre 2011, esp. Jean-Charles Ducène, ‘L’Afrique dans les mappemondes circulaires arabes médiévales. Typologie d’un représentation’ (pp. 19-36).

Patrick Gautier Dalché, ‘Géographie Arabe et Géographie Latine au XIIe Siècle’, Medieval Encounters 19 (2013), 408-433 discusses the relative lack of cartographic influence between these two cultures.


The recently discovered ‘Book of Curiosities’, an anonymous Arabic cosmographical treatise containing 17 maps, has sparked a major revision of cartography in the Islamic world. Important contributions include:

The Book of Curiosities: A Critical Edition, ed. E. Savage Smith and Y. Rapoport. World-Wide-Web publication. ( curiosities) (March 2007)

E. Savage-Smith and Y. Rapoport, ‘The Book of Curiosities and a unique map of the world’, in Cartography in Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Fresh Perspectives, New Methods, ed. R. Talbert and R. Unger (Leiden, 2008), pp. 121-38.

Andreas Kaplony, ‘Ist Europe eine Insel? Europa auf der rechteckigen Weltkarte des arabischen “Book of Curiosities” (Kitāb Ġarāʾib al-funūn),’ in Europa im Weltbild des Mittelalters: kartographische Konzepte, ed. Ingrid Baumgärtner and Hartmut Kugler [Orbis mediaevalis, 10] (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2008), 143-156.


Major contributions to the study of the reception of ancient geography, and to the history of portolan charts have come in recent years:

Patrick Gautier Dalché, La géographie de Ptolémée en Occident (IVe-XVIe siècle) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2009)

Ramon J. Pujades, Les cartes portolanes: la representació medieval d’una mar solcada (Barcelona, 2007)


Although not necessarily specifically directed towards the history of cartography, the following volumes articulate some of the opportunities, as well as pitfalls, for comparativist study of European and Islamic art and science:

Hans Belting, Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance art and Arab science, trans. Deborah Lucas Schneider (Belknap, 2011)

George Saliba, Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance (Cambridge, Mass, 2007)

Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton, Global Interests: Renaissance Art between East and West (London, 2005)

Karen Pinto, ‘The Maps are the Message: Mehmet II's Patronage of an “Ottoman Cluster”’, Imago Mundi 63:2 (2011), 155-179.


A more complete bibliography on the subject is in preparation by Network members.

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