chapter  IV
11 Pages

Medieval Arabic Writers

ByE. W. Bovill

The eleventh century saw the appearance of a work of supreme importance to the student of North African history. Ibn Haukal was one of the only two medieval Arabic writers, whose works have survived, to visit the Sudan. He spent twenty-five years in travel and claimed to have collected into his 'Book of Ways and Provinces' all that had 'ever made geography of interest either to princes or to peoples'. His pilgrimage completed, he visited the Middle East, but returned to Mecca where he spent three years in study and devotion. The next Arabic author to make a contribution to our knowledge of the Sudan was Yaqut of whom we know very little. His great work was a geographical dictionary based on the works of earlier geographers, but enriched with valuable material which he himself had collected during his extensive travels.