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The View From The South: The Maps Of The Book Of Curiosities And The Commercial Revolution Of The Eleventh Century

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Chapter Summary

The chapter argues that this is probably an overly rosy interpretation. First, it should be emphasized that the treatise as a whole, with its lavish illustrations, was a literary artifact for intellectual, urban consumption. The maps as we have them were not intended as functional navigation aides. Moreover, there are solid indicators that the maps were drawn from the records of the Fatimid navy, reflecting persisting military competition between Byzantium and its Muslim neighbors. However, the level of familiarity with the Byzantine coasts demonstrated by the maps of The Book of Curiosities, even if derived from military sources, was probably an indirect result of increasing trade and maritime-based contacts, which only came about since the middle of the tenth century.

Keywords: Byzantine coasts; Eleventh century; maritime-based contacts; The Book of Curiosities



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