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Category: How To Get Rid Of Ants Naturally | 18.02.2015
Tall, dark-haired, bearded and corpulent, Roger, from a magnificent palace in Palermo, ruled his kingdom with a balanced mixture of diplomacy, ruthlessness, wisdom and skill that has led many historians to term his kingdom the best-governed European state of the Middle Ages. To carry out the project, Roger established an academy of geographers, with himself as director and al-Idrisi as permanent secretary, to gather and analyze information. Al-Idrisi himself gave three figures for the earth’s circumference, without deciding among them: Eratosthenes’ approximately correct estimate, a slightly smaller figure arrived at by Indian astronomers, and a still smaller number—though larger than Ptolemy’s—which was apparently agreed on by Sicilian scholars. Idrisi was not, however, able to put the countries around the Baltic into proper shape, even though his notes show him to have been familiar with a great many places there, as in the rest of Europe. Al-Idrisi’s Rome had an oriental magnificence; ships with their freight sailed up the Tiber to be drawn thus loaded right up to the very shops of the merchants. Idrisi’s description of other islands in the Atlantic appear to have more to do with fanciful legends than with reality. Since the barons had attacked the Muslims of Sicily with particular ferocity—killing, among many others, a famous poet named Yahya ibn al-Tifashi—al-Idrisi fled to North Africa where, six years later, he died. As he had brought the Arabic text with him, however, his great work lived on, winning widespread fame, serving as a model for Muslim geographers and historians for centuries and providing the great Muslim historian, Ibn Khaldun, with practically all his geographical knowledge. Idrisi’s works are of exceptional quality when considered in comparison with other geographical writings of their period, partly by reason of their richness of detail, but mainly because of the afore mentioned ‘scientific method’ that was employed, a procedure which was indeed unlike that adopted by most Latin scholars of that era. Al-Idrisi’s map places Gog and Magog in northern China, behind a great wall with a tower and a door; at the wall is an inscription, translated as “belongs to the Kufaya mountain range which encloses Gog and Magog”. With this basis the Muslims combined the accumulated knowledge gained through exploration and travel. Sicily’s busy and cosmopolitan ports provided an ideal place for such an inquiry, and for years hardly a ship docked at Palermo, Messina, Catania or Syracuse without its crew and passengers being interrogated about the places they had visited.
This process of collecting and assessing material took 15 years, during which, according to al-Idrisi, hardly a day passed when the king did not confer personally with the geographers, studying accounts that disagreed, examining astronomical coordinates, tables and itineraries, poring over books and weighing divergent opinions. First, under al-Idrisi’s direction, a working copy was produced on a drawing board, with places sited on the map with compasses, following the tables that had already been prepared.
Contrasted with the quaint and picturesque, but almost totally uninformative maps of the Christian scholars, the features of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East are easily recognizable in al-Idrisi’s representation—Britain, Ireland, Spain, Italy, the Red Sea and the Nile.


He had no doubt met travelers and merchants from Scandinavia at the court of King Roger and received important information from them, but we know that the Arabs too had connections with the Baltic peoples and also those in Russia at that time. A small fresh-water river runs down from the foot of the mountain, where the inhabitants live. The Two Brothers could be the two small islands off Lanzarote in the Canaries, Alegranza and Graciosa, or indeed, any two prominent rocks off their coasts. This unnamed island, together with Masfahan, Laghus, The Two Brothers and possibly Sawa, are almost certainly islands in the Canary group. Distinct from the Canary Islands were the Isle of Female Devils, the Isle of Illusion, the Island of Two Sorcerers, and the Isle of Lamentation [Gazirat al-Mustashkin], which was inhabited and fertile, with tilled fields, but controlled by a terrible dragon.
Displays a Ptolemaic construction with an arrangement of horizontal divisions into seven parallel climate zones, originally oriented with South at the top. His co-religionists, commenting on his oriental life-style, complete with harem and eunuchs, disparagingly referred to him as the “half-heathen king” and “the baptized Sultan of Sicily.” Educated by Greek and Arab tutors, he was an intellectual with a taste for scientific inquiry, and relished the company of Muslim scholars, of whom al-Idrisi was one of the most celebrated. Eighty men, all ordinary people, got together and built a large ship and stocked it with enough food and water for several months.
The sheep are a problem, for the Azores were uninhabited when settled in the 15th century, and even if we slightly stretch the meaning of the word ghanam, which can also mean “goats,” we are still left with the problem of the origin of the creatures.
There used to be a dragon in the area, and the people were forced to feed it with bulls, donkeys or even humans, according to the legend; when Alexander arrived, the people complained to him of the dragon’s depredations. It could be argued that the first six islands, spread over three entire climate zones between the equator and the Strait of Gibraltar, represent the six known Canary Islands, forced into this north-south alignment by the physical constraints of the circular map with its narrow band of the Surrounding Ocean.
As a young man with poetic pretensions he had written student verse celebrating wine and good company, but in the course of his journeys he had discovered his real passion: geography. The Garden of Eden and Paradise were at the top and Jerusalem at the center, while fabulous monsters occupied the unexplored regions—Sirens, dragons, men with dogs’ heads, men with feet shaped like umbrellas with which they protected themselves from the sun while lying down (see #205, #207, #224, #226). The gardens of Toledo are laced with canals on which are erected water wheels used in irrigating the orchards, which produce in prodigious quantity fruits of inexpressible beauty and quality.
Juba populated the Canaries with Berber-speaking colonists, perhaps the ancestors of the Guanches.


Then they set sail with the first gentle easterly and sailed for about eleven day’s, until they came to a sea with heavy waves, evil-smelling, ridden with reefs and with very little light. The “sea with heavy waves, evil-smelling, ridden with reefs and with very little light” can probably be ignored, for the passage is influenced by the “land of darkness” thought to exist in the farthest West, and the reefs may echo a passage in Plato’s Timeus which speaks of the shallows in the Atlantic marking the site where Atlantis sank. The works of Al-Idrisi include Nozhat al-mushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq - a compendium of the geographic and sociological knowledge of his time as well as descriptions of his own travels illustrated with over seventy maps; Kharitat al-`alam al-ma`mour min al-ard [Map of the inhabited regions of the earth] wherein he divided the world into seven regions, the first extending from the equator to 23 degrees latitude, and the seventh being from 54 to 63 degrees followed by a region uninhabitable due to cold and snow.
The British Isles also were treated with a surprising insight, probably due to contacts between Norman England and Norman Sicily. They were sure they were about to perish, so they changed course to the south and sailed for twelve days, until they came to Sheep Island, There were so many sheep it was impossible to count them, and they ranged freely, with no one to watch them.
Some Greek mythographers thought the Islands of the Hesperides lay off the coast of North Africa, and we have already seen how al-Idrisi associates Alexander with two of the Atlantic islands. The island is said to have been inhabited in the past, but it fell to ruin and serpents infested the land. Not surprisingly, the best part of both map and text, accurate and detailed, dealt with Sicily itself. Al-Idrisi gave the names of many English towns, principally ports, with the distances between them. He says Sheep Island is large, shrouded in shadows, and filled with small sheep whose flesh is bitter and inedible.
Hastings was a considerable town, densely populated, with many buildings, markets, much industry and commerce; Dover, to the east, was an equally important town not far from the mouth of the river of London, the broad and swiftly flowing Thames. Nearby is another island, called Raqa, which is the home of a red bird the size of an eagle, which catches fish in its claws and never flies far from the island.
They saw the men who lived there; they were light-complexioned, with very little facial hair.



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