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Al Sharif Al-Idrisi

Are east and west two different worlds? When a cartoon sparks riots in the Muslim world and Americans preach puritanism while promoting pornography, the differences seem irreconcilable, like contradictory views of reality.

"Another world?" asks Guy Sinclair in A Foreign Policy when he studies a strange Arab map.

Kamila turns the map upside down to show  the familiar outlines of Europe and Mediterranean in upper section of the globe.

“Same world, different perspectives,” she comments.

While medieval European mapmakers saw much of the world as terra incognita, and filled in empty spaces with mermaids and monsters, their more scientific Arab colleagues were mapping the known world with unrivaled detail, drawing on works of Ptolemy, forgotten by the Europe of the time.

The 12th century map shown above depicts the familiar outlines of Europe and Middle East. The best known Moroccan cartographer, Al Sharif Al-Idrisi (1100 - 1166), drew this map like others with the South Pole at the top. It is still the same world.

Run your mouse across to view the different realities.



Beheading sword