The world, “upside down”


Recognize this?

It’s a map of the world in 1154, according to Al Idrissi, a twelfth century Andalusian geographer of both Arab and Berber descent. He was born in Ceuta, which is now a Spanish enclave geographically located in Morocco–or Sebta, part of Northern Morocco that’s illegitimately occupied by Spain, depending on who you ask.

Two things about this map.

One, it’s round. Contrary to the myth that Christopher Columbus discovered that the earth was round (“discovering” entire an entire continent in the process), many people already knew, or at least had a hunch, that this was the case.

Two, the map is oriented in such a way that it appears to be upside down. If you can’t make out the shape of the continents, know that it says “South” at the top, “North” at the bottom, “West” to the right and “East” to the left.

4 Comments

Filed under Africa, Middle East, Morocco

4 responses to “The world, “upside down”

  1. pilou

    hi kathleen
    I think Pythagoras was first to propose that the earth was round around 500 BC, and a little later Aristotle was first to proove it. As far as I know, he was first to make a practical astronomical proof using the moon and the earth. That’s what I tell my students. These concepts much later spread to Indian and Muslim astronomers. ‘Am I correct?

    • Kathleen

      That sounds about right, although I’m no astronomy expert. Of course Islam didn’t even exist until the 7th century, so obviously Islamic astronomers couldn’t have come up with the concept in B.C., hehe.

  2. erin p

    this is one of my favorite maps of all time. i am glad you found it as well.

    • Kathleen

      Actually, it came up in class the other day during a discussion of a text by a UIC geographer who’s a famous critic of Eurocentrism. Blaut is his name. This map apparently hangs in the entrance to a university in the capital city of Rabat.

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