Ibn Rusta’s Kitāb al-Aʿlāq al-nafisa and Kitāb al-Buldān by al-Yaʿqūbī

Kitab al-Alaq al-nafisa / tasnif Abi Ali Ahmad b. Umar b. Rusta. Kitab al-buldan / tasnif Ahmad b. Abi Yaqub b. Wadih al-Katib al-maruf bi-al-Yaqubi. M.J. de Goeje’s Classic Editions (1892)

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Abu ʿAlī Aḥmad b. ʿUmar Ibn Rusta was born in Isfahan at an unknown date and he flourished in the first decade of the 10th century CE. Only the seventh volume of his Kitāb al-Aʿlāq al-nafīsa has survived. The work deals with mathematical, descriptive and human geography and a variety of historical and other subjects. One of his sources seems to have been a more complete version of Ibn Khurradādhbih, which has not survived. The Kitāb al-Aʿlāq al-nafīsa, which has been characterized as an encyclopedia of geographical knowledge, is a rich source on the kinds of subjects that interested
the cultivated classes of ʿAbbāsid society. It is published here together with the Kitāb al-buldān (‘The book of countries’) by al-Yaʿqūbī (d. c. 905 CE). al-Yaʿqūbī’s Kitāb al-buldān is an administrative geography based in part on the author’s extensive travels, which also contains valuable historical data. For instance, it provides the earliest information about the political history and state-building of the Sudan west of the Nile.

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