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Atlas, the Camel

1. The world’s earliest navigational and geographical charts were developed by Canaanites who, probably simultaneously with the Egyptians, discovered the Atlantic Ocean.

2. The medieval Arabs improved upon ancient navigational practices with the development of the magnetic needle in the ninth century.

3. One of the most brilliant geographers of the medieval world was al-Idrisi, a twelfth century scientist living in Sicily. He was commissioned by King, Roger II, to compile a world atlas, which contained seventy maps.

4.  Ibn Battuta, an Arab, must have been the hardiest traveler of his time. He was not a professional geographer, but in his travels by horse, camel and sailboat, he covered over seventy five thousand miles. His wanderings, over a period of decades at a time, took him to Turkey, Bulgaria, Russia, Persia, and central Asia. He spent several years in India, and from there was appointed ambassador to the emperor of China. After China, he toured all of North Africa and many places in western Africa. Ibn Battuta’s book, Rihla (journey), is filled with information on the politics, social conditions, and economics of the places he visited.

 5. Hassan al-Wazzan captured by Italian pirates in 1520 became a protégé of Pope Leo X. Leo persuaded him to write an account of his travels on the them almost unknown African continent. Hassan became Leo Africanus and his book was translated into several European languages. For nearly two hundred year, Leo Africanus was read as the most authoritative source on Africa.

6. It should also be remembered that in the fifteenth century Vasco da Gama, exploring the east coast of Africa  was guided by Ahmed ibn Majid a pilot who used maps never before seen by Europeans.

Event related with Atlas, the Camel Espanarab race