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Boris Liebrenz: "Curious Readers: The Bodleian’s Book of Curiosities as a Fatimid View of the World Through Ottoman Eyes"

Boris Liebrenz: "Curious Readers: The Bodleian’s Book of Curiosities as a Fatimid View of the World Through Ottoman Eyes," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 64 (2021), 404-424. https://brill.com/view/journals/jesh/64/4/article-p404_3.xml

An illustrated cosmographical and geographical manuscript at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, known as the Book of Curiosities, has recently seen a rare confluence of public and scholarly attention. It is widely regarded as one of the outstanding Arabic works of geography, with stylistically idiosyncratic maps and a text that can be traced back to Egypt in the Fatimid period. However, few concrete facts are known about the history of this unique artefact. This article will identify and analyse the traces left by some of its previous owners and thus unlock the Ottoman history of this Fatimid work. By placing it in a concrete temporal and geographical context, we are better able to envisage the intellectual, social, and political environment in which this book could make sense to its owners and readers.

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