Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library:Sciences, History, and Geography

بزرگ بن شهريار، عجايب الهند
Buzurg ibn Shahriya-r, ‘ʿAja-yib al-Hind; Livre des Merveilles de l’Inde’
Leiden, 1883-1886
Captain Buzurg ibn Shahriya-r’s ‘Book of the Wonders of India’
Product Category
Primary Sources
Approximately 500,000

Delve into the rich study of sciences, history, and geography by Arab thinkers using the first major text-searchable online archive of pre-twentieth century Arabic printed books

Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library represents the digitization of one of the world’s most important Arabic collections, based on A.G. Ellis’s 1894-1901 record of publications. The full collection includes books on a variety of subjects printed from the fifteenth to nineteenth century in Arabic script, as well as translations into European and Asian languages. Early Arabic Printed Books: Sciences, History, and Geography presents the range of Arab learning that influenced the scholarship and scientific development in Europe through the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. It features works on medicine and physiology, classical sciences, mathematics, astrology, chemistry, natural history, philosophy, logic and ethics, politics, history and genealogy, biography, travel, geography and topography.

Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library: Sciences, History, and Geography features historical monographs ranging from medicine, physiology, classical sciences, natural history, chemistry, and mathematics to biography, geography, travel, astrology, philosophy, logic, and ethics. Over three hundred works on medicine and physiognomy include many editions or partial editions of Ibn Sina's (Avicenna's) al-Qanum fi al-Tibb (the Weidenbach 1470 Latin printing, an 1593 edition in Arabic, and an 1845 German edition), as well as works by other great Arab scientists such al-Haytham, al-Farabi, and al-Battani. In total, there are ninety works on astronomy and astrology, seventy-four on mathematics, fifty-three on alchemy, over two hundred on philosophy, and nearly three hundred on ethics. The collection also includes approximately four hundred historical works, as well as over two hundred histories in biography form. Furthermore, works on geography and travel provide insight into the economic and intellectual orbit of the inhabitants of the Islamic world.

Among the major works are:

  • Al-Wahidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi
  • Ansab al-ashraf by al-Baladhuri
  • Al-Khulasat al-nakiyat by al-Mas’udi
  • Editions of Al-Mukhtasar fi ta’rikh al-bashar by Abu al-Fida
  • Izz al-Din Abu al-Hasan ’Ali ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Athir’s al-Kamil
  • Ibn Khaldun’s Kitab al-‘Ibar and Muqaddima
  • Histories by Rifa’a Rafi’ al-Tahtawi
  • Kitab ’Aja’ib al-Hind on India
  • Masalik al-absar by ibn Fadl Allah al-‘Umari

Scholars can search on the full text of items in Arabic, English, French, German, Latin, Italian, Dutch and Spanish while also being able to discover content in Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Syriac and more.

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Additional Details

Subjects Covered
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Science and Technology
Advisory Board

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Optical character recognition

Full-text searching across the Arabic language materials created with newly developed optical character recognition software (OCR) for early Arabic printed script.

Arabic-Language User Interface

A complete and selectable Arabic-Language User Interface with right-to-left read text and navigation to fully meet the research needs of Arabic speakers.

Subject Indexing

Library of Congress Subject Indexing to facilitate discovery and research of content by subject