SKHS:n Uuden tutkimuksen ilta 3.3.: Transcultural Knowledge and Christian Worldviews
Suomen kirkkohistoriallisen seuran UUDEN TUTKIMUKSEN ILLASSA esitelmöi postdoctoral researcher Stefan Schröder
Transcultural Knowledge and Christian Worldviews. Impact and Function of Arabic Cartography in Latin Maps of the First Half of the 14th Century
While the impact of Arabic knowledge is well documented in the disciplines of philosophy, medicine and astronomy, the exchange of geographical and cartographical knowledge between the Arabic and Latin world is less studied. Previous research on the topic has come to contradictory results. It was stated that the development of modern cartography beginning in the Late Middle Ages was not possible without using Arabic proficiency. Other views largely deny an intercultural influence and explain e. g. the origin of highly advanced Portolan charts almost solely with internal factors of the Western world.
In revisiting the results of previous research, the ways, conditions and contents of the transfer of cartographic knowledge are examined. The paper focuses on Arabic elements in world maps of the first half of the 14th century accompanying Marino Sanudo’s call for a new crusade (Liber Secretorum Fidelium Crucis) and Paulinus’ Minorita world chronicle (Chronologia magna). Firstly I will revisit the relationship between these maps and their potential Arabic counterparts (al-Idrīsī’s mid-12th century Nuzhat al-mushtāq fi’khtirāq al-āfāq and the anonymous Book of Curiosity). Secondly, it will be asked in which ways this knowledge was adapted to Latin spatial conceptions and which contradictions between different traditions had to be overcome. In order to discuss thirdly possible functions of the Arabic elements, the relationship between the text and image will be examined.
Mediaeval maps are in this connection to understand neither as an instrument for spatial travelling nor only as an expression of contemporary knowledge about the physical appearance of the earth. They are rather to be seen as a medium. Through the selection of visual and verbal signs as well as creative design, they produce cultural, religious and political entities and communicate social values and collective identities. In this way maps are not passive and neutral items, but play an active role in the transmission of knowledge, in implementing and changing world views.
Sini Mikkola, sihteeri/secretary
Suomen kirkkohistoriallinen seura/The Finnish Society of Church History
PL 4/P.O.B. 4
00014 Helsingin yliopisto/00014 University of Helsinki
+358 9 19122012