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Hallucinations scientifiques (les portulans)

Nature volume 140, pages 662663 (16 October 1937) | Download Citation



PRINCE YOUSSOUF KAMAL is known not only as the owner of an unusually fine collection of early maps, brought together with little regard to cost, but also as a keen student of their history, so that anything written by him on the subject merits attention. His big folio volumes containing, or to contain, facrappy and disjointed, its main object beingsimiles of all the most important early maps of Egypt or of Africa as a whole (with which, as an Egyptian, he is specially interested) are monuments of sumptuous reproduction. The present work claims no such importance, and one cannot help wishing that he had waited to give a systematic discussion of the old Portolan Charts and their origin, for he should be well qualified to undertake such a study. As it is, the work is somewhat scrappy amd disjointed, its main object being to combat the theory put forward by a recent writer, Prof. J. H. Kramers of Leyden, who believes that the nautical charts produced in the Western Mediterranean, which make their first known appearance, already in fully developed form, about A.D. 1300, owed much to previous work of the kind in the East, especially that of the Arab geographers El Bakri and Edrisi. It is this to which the term "Hallucinations"of the title is applied.

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