Imagine All the Pieces Merging into One. How al-Iṣṭakhrī Mapped the Islamicate World in the Tenth Century
Nadja Danilenko (Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies)
Jan. 18, 6:00 pm, Universität Hamburg, Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, AS-Saal, 20146 Hamburg
Abstract: "Imagine all the Pieces Merging Into one. How al-Iṣṭakhrī Mapped the Islamicate World in the Tenth Century"
The tenth-century Book of Routes and Realms by al-Iṣṭakhrī contains the first preserved cartographic material from the Islamicate world – a world map and twenty regional maps. By combining his text about the entire world and the Islamicate realm with a set of maps, he introduced a new visual quality to the field of Arabic descriptive geography.
In order to understand the notion of space that al-Iṣṭakhrī put forward, this talk will focus on his visualization strategy: How did al-Iṣṭakhrī organize space, both textually and visually? Which aspects did he highlight or ignore? What way of imagining the Islamicate world did he present?
Nadja Danilenko, PhD student at The Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (Freie Universität Berlin), conducts her research on the representation of space in al-Iṣṭakhrī's Book of Routes and Realms (Kitāb al-Masālik wa-al-Mamālik) and its manuscript tradition.
In combining approaches from historical cartography, Islamic Studies and Bildwissenschaft, her dissertation aims at analyzing the oldest extant cartographic material from the Islamicate world preserved in al-Iṣṭakhrī's tenth-century Book of Routes and Realms. Based on the methodology she introduces in her study, she examines the notions of space that al-Iṣṭakhrī presented with his set of twenty-one maps (a world map and twenty regional maps) and in what way they facilitated imagining the Islamicate world.
In contrast to other geographic literature from the same period, the Book of Routes and Realms was later translated into Persian and Ottoman and transmitted in manuscript copies until the late ninteenth century. By analyzing this rich manuscript tradition regarding changes and continuations as well as circulation and readership, she attempts to understand how and why this particular geography was copied for almost a millennium