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The Odyssey of Ibn Battuta

Uncommon Tales of a Medieval Adventurer

Ibn Battuta was, without doubt, one of the world’s truly great travelers. Born in fourteenth-century Morocco, and a contemporary of Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta left an account in his own words of his remarkable journeys, punctuated by adventure and peril, throughout the Islamic world and beyond. Whether sojourning in Delhi and the Maldives, wandering through the mazy streets of Cairo and Damascus, or contesting with pirates and shipwreck, the indefatigable Ibn Battuta brought to vivid life a medieval world brimming with marvel and mystery. Carefully observing the great diversity of civilizations that he encountered, Ibn Battuta exhibited an omnivorous interest in such matters as food and drink; religious differences among Christians, Hindus, and Shia Muslims; and ideas about purity and impurity, disease, women, and sex.

David Waines offers here a graceful analysis of Ibn Battuta’s travelogue. This is a gripping treatment of the life and times of one of history’s most daring, and at the same time most human, adventurers.

240 pages | 11 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2010

History: Discoveries and Exploration, Middle Eastern History

Medieval Studies

Religion: Islam

Travel and Tourism: Tourism and History


“David Waines has written a fresh, new study of the famous fourteenth-century traveler Ibn Battuta, in which the traveler’s world and worldview are laid bare for us. This is a delightful exposé of what Ibn Battuta made of the experience of travel and the diverse foods, societies, religions, and individuals that he encountered in the ‘international’ civilization of medieval Islam.”

Paul M. Cobb, University of Pennsylvania

“David Waines offers us a fascinating and wholly fresh look into the life and travels of a major figure of Mediterranean and medieval literature. Ibn Battuta’s monumental travel narrative, and the socio-historical issues that underlie that narrative, come alive in Waines’s vibrant and clear prose. Beyond a highly nuanced account of Ibn Battuta’s Travels, Waines also offers his readers a sophisticated platform upon which to develop future analyses of medieval travel literature. The Odyssey of Ibn Battuta will no doubt become the standard introduction to Ibn Battuta’s work for years to come.”

Vincent Barletta, Stanford University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgements
Map: The Travels of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354

1. Travel Tales, Their Creators and Critics
2. The Travels
3. Tales of Food and Hospitality
4. Tales of Sacred Places, Saints, Miracles, and Marvels
5. Tales of the ’Other’

Select Bibliography

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