STELLAR NAVIGATION IN THE MEDIEVAL INDIAN OCEAN

G. R. Tibbetts

Abstract: One does not expect to find a great deal of original material written on such an obscure subject as this. A few references from teh earliest Portuguese writers and an odd mention by Ibn Battuta or by other Medieval travellers might be thought to be all of the information in existence. However there is quite a corpus of middle eastern navigational literature in Arabic and Turkish dealing with the period immediately preceding the Portuguese discoveries. Most of the texts of this sort are grouped into four manuscripts and were originally written by three authors, Ahmad ibn Majid and Sulaiman al-Mhri who wrote in Arabic, and Sidi Ali Celebi who wrote in Turkish. The earliest of these, Ahmad ibn Majid, was by far the most prolific and the most important. He lived from roughtly 1430 to 1500 and hence covered the greatest period of Arab sailing before the arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean. He was an Arab, writing in Arabic and so emphasised the Arab side of India Ocean sailing, but he leaves us enough data to show that the Indians (Gujerati and Cholas) practised the same navigation techniques, although sometimes they results were different and sometimes they followed different routes and sailing times from those used by the Arabs.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 19, Number 2
Pages: 139 - 144
Cite this article: Tibbetts, G. R., "STELLAR NAVIGATION IN THE MEDIEVAL INDIAN OCEAN", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer 1972, pp. 139-144.
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