Part 2b

The Earth's northern quarter has more civilization than the southern Icon

January 29, 2020

The first and the second of the cultivated zones have less civilization than the other zones.

The latter is interspersed with empty waste areas and sandy deserts and has the Indian Ocean to the east. The nations and populations of the first and second zones are few.

The third, fourth, and subsequent zones are just the opposite.

Waste areas there are few. Sandy deserts also are few or non-existent. The nations and populations are tremendous. Cities and towns are exceedingly numerous. Civilization has its seat between the third and the sixth zones. The south is all emptiness.

Many philosophers said that this is because of the excessive heat of the sun’s deviation from the zenith in the south.

When the south and north poles of heaven are on the horizon, they make a large circle that divides the firmament into two parts. It is the largest circle in it and runs from west to east. It is called the equinoctial line.

Astronomy explains that the highest sphere moves from east to west in a daily motion. This also forces the spheres enclosed by it to move. This motion is perceptible to the senses.

The stars in their spheres have a motion that is contrary to this motion and is, therefore, a motion from west to east. The periods of this movement differ according to the different speeds of the motions of the stars.

Parallel to the courses of all these stars in their spheres, there runs a large circle which belongs to the highest sphere and divides it into two halves. This is the ecliptic zodiac. It is divided into twelve “signs.”

The equinoctial line intersects the ecliptic at two opposite points:

  • at the beginning of Aries
  • at the beginning of Libra

The equinoctial line divides the zodiac into two halves. One of them extends northward from the equinoctial line and includes the signs from the beginning of Aries to the end of Virgo.

The other half extends southward from it and includes the signs from the beginning of Libra to the end of Pisces.

When the two poles fall upon the horizon which takes place in one particular region among all the regions of the earth, a line is formed upon the surface of the earth that faces the equinoctial line and runs from west to east. This line is called the equator.

This line is believed to coincide with the beginning of the first of the seven zones. All civilization is to the north of it.

The north pole gradually ascends on the horizon of the cultivated area (of the earth) until its elevation reaches sixtyfour degrees. Here, all civilization ends. This is the end of the seventh zone. When its elevation reaches ninety degrees on the horizon - that is the distance between the pole and the equinoctial - line-then it is at its zenith, and the equinoctial line is on the horizon. Six of the signs of the zodiac, the northern ones, remain above the horizon, and six, the southern ones, are below it.

Civilization is impossible in the area between the sixtyfourth and the ninetieth degrees, for no admixture of heat and cold occurs there because of the great time interval between them. Generation (of anything), therefore, does not take place.

The sun is at its zenith on the equator at the beginning of Aries and Libra. It then declines from its zenith down to the beginning of Cancer and Capricorn. Its greatest declination from the equinoctial line is 24 degrees.

Now, when the north pole ascends on the horizon, the equinoctial line declines from the zenith in proportion to the elevation of the north pole, and the south pole descends correspondingly, as regards the three (distances constituting geographical latitude). 39

Scholars who calculate the prayer times call this the latitude of a place. When the equinoctial line declines from the zenith, the northern signs of the zodiac gradually rise above it, proportionately to its rise, until the beginning of Cancer is reached. Meanwhile, the southern signs of the zodiac correspondingly descend below the horizon until the beginning of Capricorn is reached, because of the inclination of the (two halves of the zodiac) upwards or downwards from the horizon of the equator, as we have stated.

The northern horizon continues to rise, until its northern limit, which is the beginning of Cancer, is in the zenith. This is where the latitude is twenty-four degrees in the Hijaz and the territory adjacent. This is the declination from the equinoctial at the horizon of the equator at the beginning of Cancer.

With the elevation of the north pole (Cancer) rises, until it attains the zenith. When the pole rises more than twenty-four degrees, the sundescends from the zenith and continues to do so until the elevation of the pole is 64 degrees, and the sun’s descent from the zenith, as well as the depression of the south pole under the horizon, is the same distance.

Then, generation (of anything) stops because of the excessive cold and frost and the long time without any heat. At and nearing its zenith, the sun sends its rays down upon the earth at right angles.

In other positions, it sends them down at obtuse or acute angles. When the rays form right angles, the light is strong and spreads out over a wide area, in contrast to what happens in the case of obtuse and acute angles. Therefore, at and nearing its zenith, the heat is greater than in other positions, because the light (of the sun) is the reason for heat and calefaction.

The sun reaches its zenith at the equator twice a year in two points of Aries and Libra. No declination (of the sun) goes very far. The heat hardly begins to become more temperate, when the sun has reached the limit of its declination at the beginning of Cancer or Capricorn and begins to rise again toward the zenith. The perpendicular rays then fall heavily upon the horizon there (in these regions) and hold steady for a long time, if not permanently.

The air gets burning hot, even excessively so. The same is true whenever the sun reaches the zenith in the area between the equator and latitude twentyfour degrees, as it does twice a year. The rays exercise almost as much force upon the horizon there (at this latitude) as they do at the equator. The excessive heat causes a parching dryness in the air that prevents (any) generation. As the heat becomes more excessive, water and all kinds of moisture dry up, and (the power of) generation is destroyed in minerals, plants, and animals, because (all) generation depends on moisture.

Now, when the beginning of Cancer declines from the zenith at the latitude of 25 degrees and beyond, the sun also declines from its zenith. The heat becomes temperate, or deviates only slightly from (being temperate). Then, generation can take place. This goes on until the cold becomes excessive, due to the lack of light and the obtuse angles of the rays of the sun.

Then, (the power of) generation again decreases and is destroyed. However, the destruction caused by great heat is greater than that caused by great cold, because heat brings about desiccation faster than cold brings about freezing. Therefore, there is little civilization in the first and second zones. There is a medium degree of civilization in the third, fourth, and fifth zones, because the heat there is temperate owing to the decreased amount of light. There is a great deal of civilization in the sixth and seventh zones because of the decreased amount of heat there. At first, cold does not have the same destructive effect upon (the power of) generation as heat; it causes desiccation only when it becomes excessive and thus has dryness added. This is the case beyond the seventh zone. (All) this, then, is the reason why civilization is stronger and more abundant in the northern quarter.

The philosophers concluded from these facts that the region at the equator and beyond it (to the south) was empty. On the strength of observation and continuous tradition, it was argued against them that (to the contrary) it was cultivated. How would it be possible to prove this (contention)? It is obvious that the (philosophers) did not mean to deny entirely the existence of civilization there, but their argumentation led them to (the realization) that (the power of) generation must, to a large degree, be destroyed there because of the excessive heat. Consequently, civilization there would be either impossible, or only minimally possible. This is so. The region at the equator and beyond it (to the south), even if it has civilization as has been reported, has only a very little of it. Averroes 41 assumed that the equator is in a symmetrical position 42 and that what is beyond the equator to the south corresponds to what is beyond it to the north; consequently, as much of the south would be cultivated as of the north. His assumption is not impossible, so far as (the argument of) the destruction of the power of generation is concerned. However, as to the region south of the equator, it is made impossible by the fact that the element of water covers the face of the earth in the south, where the corresponding area in the north admits of generation. On account of the greater amount of water (in thesouth), Averroes’ assumption of the symmetrical (position of the equator) thus turns out to be impossible. Everything else follows, since civilization progresses gradually and begins its gradual progress where it can exist, not where it cannot exist. The assumption that civilization cannot exist at the equator is contradicted by continuous tradition.

The map of the earth was done by the author of the Book of Roger.

Then, we shall give a detailed description of the map.


THIS DESCRIPTlON is twofold. There is a detailed description and a general description.

The detailed description consists of a discussion of each country, mountain, sea, and river of the cultivated part of the earth. This discussion will be found in the following section.

The general description consists of a discussion of the division of the cultivated part of the earth into seven zones, their latitudinal (extension), and the length of their days. Such is the contents of this section.

The earth floats on the elemental water like a grape. 45 God’s plan for civilization and for the elemental generation of life resulted in making part of (the earth) free of water.

The part that is free of water is said to constitute one-half the surface of the earth. The cultivated part is one-fourth of it. The rest is uncultivated. According to another opinion, the cultivated part is only one-sixth of it. The empty areas of the part which is free of water lie to the south and to the north. The cultivated area in between forms a continuum that stretches from west to east. There is no empty area between the cultivated part and the (Surrounding) Sea in these two directions.

They further said= Across the cultivated part of the earth an imaginary line runs from west to east facing the equinoctial line (of the firmament) in regions where the two poles of the firmament are on the horizon. At this line civilization begins. It extends from there northwards.

Ptolemy said= “As a matter of fact, civilization extends beyond that line to the south.” He indicated the latitudinal extension, as will be mentioned .46

Ishaq b. al-Hasan al-Khazini 47 expresses the opinion that beyond the seventh zone (to the north) there is another civilization. He indicated its latitudinal extension, as we shall mention. 48 Al-Khazini is one of the leading scholars in this craft (geography).


1 South 41 Mukrin 2 West 42 Kirmin 3 North 43 Firs 4 East 44 al-Bahlus 5 Empty beyond the equator because of the heat 45 Azerbaijan6 Equator 46 Desert 7 Lamlam Country 47 Khurasin 8 Maghzawah (Maguzawa?) 48 Khuwirizm 9 Kanem 49 Eastern India [Country 10 Bornu 50 Tashkent 11 Gawgaw 51 Soghd 12 Zaghiy 52 China 13 at-Tijuwin 53 Tughuzghuz 14 Nubia 54 Gascogne 15 Abyssinia 55 Brittany 16 Ghanah 56 Calabria 17 Lamtah 57 France 18 as-Sus 58 Venice 19 Morocco 59 Germany (Alaminiyah) 20 Tangier 60 Macedonia 21 Sinhijah 61 Bohemia 22 Dar’ah 62 Jathuliyah 23 Ifriqiyah 63 Jarmaniyah 24 Fezzan 64 al-Baylagin 25 Jarid 65 Armenia 26 Kawir 66 Tabaristan 27 Desert of Berenice 67 Alans 28 Inner Oases 68 Bashqirs 29 Upper Egypt 69 Bulgars 30 Egypt 70 Pechenegs 31 Beja 71 Stinking Land 32 Hijiz 72 Waste Country 33 Syria 73 Magog 34 Yemen 74 Ghuzz 35 Yamimah 75 Tiirgish 36 al-Basrah 76 Adhkish 37 ‘Iraq 77 Khallukh 38 ash-Shihr 78 Gog 39 Oman 79 Kimik 40 Western India 80 Empty in the north because of the cold


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