Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


Tamim ibn Bar' s Journey to the Uyghurs

V. Minorsky

One of the main and most tempting problems for a student of Arab geographers is the analysis of their excursions into the little-explored regions on the periphery of the Islamic world, such as Eastern Europe, Central Asia, China, and India. It is a well known fact that these geographers, intent on Space, are often negligent of Time. On a sixteenth century Turkish map I have found a phantom of America stretched into the shape of a new-born moon, whereas the wastes of Siberia were still marked as the haunts of the traditional Gog and Magog. Thus, too, in the ninth and tenth centuries, the classical period of Arab geography, the scholars felt no compunction in plagiarizing one another, or borrowing from some ancient source data bearing no relation to the contemporary conditions: in the tenth century King Dahum of “common origin” still figured among, the rulers of India, although this name referred to Dharmapala, the ruler of Bengal about A.D. 800.