Little more than a long essay, Arab Seafaring
is narrowly focused.
Hourani concentrates on the western Indian Ocean and in particular on
the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, though he briefly describes direct voyages
to China and Islamic seafaring in the Mediterranean. And, though he
uses more recent evidence where relevant, he restricts himself to the
period down to 1000, with part one covering the pre-Islamic period and
part two that of the Caliphate. In part three he surveys Arab nautical
technology — sewn hulls, lateen sails, and navigation — and offers
four brief but tantalising extracts from Arabic sea-stories.
Rather than modifying Hourani's 1951 text, Carswell has added twenty
five pages of notes, summarising the latest archaeological evidence and
explaining where Hourani's analysis has been superseded. He has also
updated the bibliography and index.
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