World Maps for Finding the Direction and Distance of Mecca: Examples of Innovation and Tradition in Islamic Science

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BRILL, Jan 1, 1999 - Social Science - 638 pages
Two remarkable Iranian world-maps were discovered in 1989 and 1995. Both are made of brass and date from 17th-century Iran. Mecca is at the centre and a highly sophisticated longitude and latitude grid enables the user to determine the direction and distance to Mecca for anywhere in the world between Andalusia and China. Prior to the discovery of these maps it was thought that such cartographic grids were conceived in Europe ca. 1910. This richly-illustrated book presents an overview of the ways in which Muslims over the centuries have determined the sacred direction towards Mecca ("qibla") and then describes the two world-maps in detail. The author shows that the geographical data derives from a 15th-century Central Asian source and that the mathematics underlying the grid was developed in 9th-century Baghdad.
 

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Contents

Aspects of Islamic science
3
The determination of the sacred direction in Islam
47
The main sources of Safavid mathematical geography
128
New discoveries Two Meccacentred worldmaps from Safavid Iran
195
The geographical data on the maps
213
The cartographic grids
235
The makers of the Safavid instruments
255
Traces of Kuropean influence on the instruments
275
List of instruments cited
417
List of manuscripts cited
426
A Partial reconstruction of the Timurid table presented by Abd alRahim
441
B The geographical information on various Safavid astrolabes and other
478
B7 Extracts from the geographical data of Muhammad Zaman MZM
501
B20 The gazetteers on various astrolabes with Sanskrit inscriptions
548
The geographical table of alKhazini KHZN
564
E Miscellaneous Iranian sources
586

Further reflections on Meccacentred worldmaps
329
Epilogue
365
Bibliography and bibliographical abbreviations
373
List of abbreviations used for museums and libraries
411
F Miscellaneous Egyptian Syrian and Ottoman Turkish sources
600
F7 The geographical table of alMizzl with qiblavalues computed by alKhalili MIZK
620
G3 Miscellaneous Iranian sources
634
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About the author (1999)

David A. King, Ph.D. (1972) in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, Yale University, is Professor of the History of Science at the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt. He has published extensively on medieval Islamic astronomy and astronomical instruments.

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