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Sri Lanka bigger than India? That’s what it looks like on this thousand-year-old Arab trading map!

Sri Lanka bigger than India? That’s what it looks like on this thousand-year-old Arab trading map!

Arabs were trading with Sri Lanka and the world as they knew it 1,000 years ago—and they made maps to guide their seafarers and maritime explorers.

One such was drawn by Al-Idrisi’s Tabula Rogeriana in 1154 AD (pictured above)—and appears to show Sri Lanka as being much bigger than neighbouring India!

This map was created based on the reports of Arab merchants who had travelled across the world. It was, at the time, the most accurate and extensive map of the world.

Tabula may have cheated a bit, because it closely resembles a much earlier ‘world’ map drawn by Ptolemy in 150 AD (pictured below), which was the first to add longitudinal and latitudinal lines.

These maps and more are featured on the All That Is Interesting website, which notes that “when Earth’s first people looked out around them, they couldn’t imagine how far the scope of the world extended beyond what stretched out before their own eyes”.

It says: “Their world was the land that surrounded and fed them, and as far as they knew, it extended no further.

“The first of these ancient world maps was reportedly made in Babylon more than 2,500 years ago. It shows a world that extends little past their own empire, surrounded by bitter waters and pointed islands on which they believed no man could survive.

“Those waters surrounded most of the extant ancient world maps. The world, to them, was a round disc surrounded by an ocean, and a place consisting only of Africa, Europe, and Asia.”

Read more here.

The early ‘world’ map drawn by Ptolemy in 150 AD, which was the first to add longitudinal and latitudinal lines.

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