Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354
January 12, 2013 3:27 AM Subscribe
"To the world of today the men of medieval Christendom already seem remote and unfamiliar. Their names and deeds are recorded in our history-books, their monuments still adorn our cities, but our kinship with them is a thing unreal, which costs an effort of imagination. How much more must this apply to the great Islamic civilization, that stood over against medieval Europe, menacing its existence and yet linked to it by a hundred ties that even war and fear could not sever. Its monuments too abide, for those who may have the fortunate to visit them, but its men and manners are to most of us utterly unknown, or dimly conceived in the romantic image of the Arabian Nights. Even for the specialist it is difficult to reconstruct their lives and see them as they were. Histories and biographies there are in quantity, but the historians for all their picturesque details, seldom show the ability to select the essential and to give their figures that touch of the intimate which makes them live again for the reader. It is in this faculty that Ibn Battuta excels."
Thus begins the book, "Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354" published by Routledge and Kegan Paul
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. Step into the world
of "the first tourist
" who made his mark as the world's greatest traveler
before the age of steam.Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta, was a Moroccan Muslim scholar and traveler. He is known for his traveling and going on excursions called the Rihla. His journeys lasted for a period of almost thirty years. This covered nearly the whole of the known Islamic world and beyond, extending from North Africa, West Africa, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe in the West, to the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China in the East, a distance readily surpassing that of his predecessors. After his travel he returned to Morocco and gave his account of the experience to Ibn Juzay. Via
of his decades of
series, computer game
* galore including an IMAX
, he lived through 3 epidemics of plague
, in his search for adventure
. Trained judge (qadi), scholar, and observer, he's been called a true Renaissance man, surpassing his contemporary
, that other, more
famous traveler Marco Polo
Battuta crossed over 40 modern countries and covered over 70,000 miles. He became one of the greatest travelers the world has ever seen. He left behind a travelogue of his life's journeys filled with details on the places, people and politics of medieval Eurasia and North Africa.
His adventures reveal, as Dunn writes, "the formation of dense networks** of communication and exchange." These networks "linked in one way or another nearly everyone in the hemisphere with nearly everyone else.
"From Ibn Battuta," Dunn continues, "we discover webs of interconnection that stretched from Spain to China, and from Kazakhstan to Tanzania." Even in the 14th century, an event in one part of Eurasia or Africa might affect places thousands of miles away. Via
*BBC documentary in three parts
of which this link is to the first part. Noted here is that it doesn't cover Battuta's travels
in Sub Saharan Africa
, considered the best available written record
of life in Africa before the Europeans arrived.
**For more on the inexhaustible wealth of information from and about Ibn Battuta