Islamic Cartography علم الخرائط الإسلامي

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A blog on Islamic Cartography

I am creating this blog as an outlet for my dissertation, in the writing process, titled: "The depiction of the Mediterranean in late Islamic cartography: from the 13th to the 16th century".


At 5:49 AM, Blogger Catholicgauze said...

Great idea! Several other bloggers and I are using our blogs as an outlet for thesis studies one way or another. I look forward to your results!

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Tarek Kahlaoui said...

thanx... I added some cartography blogs in my links following the list that you have

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Karen Pinto said...

Great idea! Thanks for making the effort to compile such an extensive bibliography. At some point I hope to be able to distribute the link to the sampler of medieval islamic maps of the Mediterranean when I am done and have the permissions paid! As you know, I work with the earlier al-Balkhi/al-Istakhri tradition. Your work dovetails wnderfully with mine. Looking forward to future collaboration. If you want to see small jpgs (I didnt want to infringe copyright so I deliberately kept them small) see my website:

My dissertation on world maps and a talk on MehmetII is also available on my website. Anyone interested in these should send me an e-mail for passwords:

Best wishes,
Karen Pinto
(temporarily located in a tiny village (Gozculer)in southern Turkey thanks to the recent wanton, widespread, disproportionate, and completely insane Israeli war of aggression in Lebanon)

At 7:30 PM, Blogger dan said...

Lets keep politics out of the blog, please.

At 11:33 PM, Blogger izzy said...

Anthropomorphic Maps

Anthropomorphic maps were generated by configuring the body of a god or goddess over the area to be mapped. The name of each part of that body became the name of the area or feature under that part. This produced a scale 1:1 map-without-paper on which the name of a place automatically indicated its approximate location and direction with respect to all other places on the same map whose name was derived in this manner.

Unless stated otherwise, the words below in [Brackets] are Hebrew, a Western Semitic language whose lexicon is very similar to Phoenician. I have used @ for aleph (with an ancient CHS-sound), 3 for aiyin (with a G/K-sound), kH for het, and SH for shin (with an ancient T-sound).


The map of Aphrodite is in north Africa. Her face [PaNim] was lost during the 3rd Punic war. The rest of her is still there. She is looking backwards over her right shoulder, so her CRaniuM is reversed at Morocco. It still has a Fez. Her chin [SaNTir] is reversed at Tunisia. The Atlas (anatomy: first cervical vertebra) mountains support her head. Her hair [Sa3aRa] is the Sahara desert. Her backbone [amood SHiDRa] is the Gulf of Sidra. Her heart [LeB] is Libya. Her breast [SHaD] is Chad. Her narrow [TZaR] waist is Misr / Mitzraim. Her liver (Greek hepato-) is Egypt. Cotton (Arabic QuTN, Latin Gossypium) was exported from Goshen, her [QiTNit = bean]-shaped kidney. Her side [TZaD] is Sudan. Her other side [DoFeN] is Dafur. Her left [SMoL] leg is Somalia.

CaNa3aN was her Latin cunnus (and a reversal of Greek gyneco-). Its name changed to YiSRa@eL at the time when Ya3aKoV / Jacob "fought with god and men" [Gen 32:29]. This represented a change in sovereignty from Africa to Asia minor. YiSRa@eL is that body part that gives @oSHeR = delight to @eL = god when it is YaSHaR = traight, upright. Changing Jacob's name from Ya3aKoV = "ankle; curved, bent" to YiSRa@eL = "straight, upright + god" is a well-known Hebrew pun.


The body-part map of Hermes is in Asia minor. kHermes [kHoR = hole + MoSnaim = waist] lived at Mt. kHermon before he moved Mt. Olympus (Greek omphalos = navel). Later his name was reversed to become Latin Mercury. Compare Amerigo Vespucci and America.

His head [Ro@SH] was at Roxolania / Rus, south of Belarus. Its name changed to the Ukraine (Gk kranion = cranium, not Slavic u kraina = to/at the border). His throat [GaRGeret] is Georgia. His left shoulder [KaSaF] is the Caspian sea. His right shoulder [@aTZiL] was Euxinus, now the Black Sea. His right arm/hand is being washed [NaTiLat] at Anatolia. His upper arm (Sanskrit irma) at Armenia, biceps (Greek pontiki = muscle) at Pontus, elbow [KiFooF yaD] at Cappadocia, wrist [m'FaReK] at Phrygia, and thumb [BoHeN] at Bithynia were in Anatolia. His heart (Greek cardia) became Kurdistan. His narrow [TZaR] waist is Syria and his navel (Sanskrit nabhila) reverses to LeBaNon.

South of Lebanon is the male member (Greek phallus) named Philistina. See CaNa3aN / YiSRa@eL above. His buttocks [YeReKH] is Iraq. His thigh [shin-vav-kuf] sounded like TvK and reversed to Kuwait. His knee BeReKH] is partially reversed in Bahrain. His right [Y'MiN] foot is at Yemen.

These two bodies are connected, literally, at Sinai with an aleph that is not written in Hebrew (compare "snatch", a reversal of K'NiSah = entrance), a part of her body that contains the desert of Zin, his "zaiyin".

Look for message #7 entitled "Attributes of body part maps" on the BPMaps website at
You are cordially invited to join this very quiet group (about 2 emails / month).

Aphrodite as an Anthropomorphic Map

The goddess we call Aphrodite
Is not just an old Grecian deity.
The Phoenicians did make
Her a map. It's not fake.
Her body is cartograffiti.

The Punic war destroyed her face,
The Romans left nary a trace.
But her hair is still there,
In Sahara, that's where.
And her chin's a Tunisian place.

Mt. Atlas is her first verTebra.
Her backbone is now Gulf of Sidra.
Her heart is in Libya,
Her left leg, Somalia.
Her breast is in Chad wearing no bra.

The Greeks called her liver Egypt, an'
Her kidney was Biblical Goshen.
She's bent at her waist,
Now Misr-ably placed.
The Red Sea was her menstruation.

As a kid I did think the Red Sea
Was an English map typo: lost E,
From Reed Sea in Hebrew.
But that could not be true,
Mare Rubrum 'twas Latin, B.C.

Aphrodite with Hermes did sin,
We know this is true 'cause within
Her "snatch" we call Sinai
His "zaiyin" does still lie.
It's known as the desert of Zin.

Best regards,
Israel "izzy" Cohen
BPMaps moderator

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