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Yaqut ibn-'Abdullah al-Rumi al-Hamawi
Religion Islam
Born 1179
Constantinople, Byzantine Empire
Died 1229 (aged 49–50)
Aleppo, Zengid Empire

Yāqūt Shihāb al-Dīn ibn-'Abdullāh al-Rūmī al-Hamawī (1179–1229) (Arabic: ياقوت الحموي الرومي ) is famous for his great "geography", Mu'jam ul-Buldān, an encyclopedia of Islam written in the late Abbāsid era and as much a work of biography, history and literature as a simple work of geography.


Yāqūt (ruby or hyacinth) was the kunya of Ibn Abdullāh ("son of Abdullāh"). He was born in Constantinople, and as his nisba "al-Rumi" ("from Rūm") indicates he had Byzantine Greek ancestry. Yāqūt was "mawali" to ‘Askar ibn Abī Naṣr al-Ḥamawī, a trader of Baghdad, Iraq, the seat of the Abbasid Caliphate, from whom he received the laqab "Al-Hamawī". As ‘Askar's apprentice, he learned about accounting and commerce, becoming his envoy on trade missions and travelling twice or three times to Kish in the Persian Gulf. In 1194 ‘Askar stopped his salary over some dispute and Yāqūt found work as copyist to support himself. He embarked on a course of study under the grammarian Al-‘Ukbarî. Five years later he was on another mission to Kish for ‘Askar. On his return to Baghdad he set up as a bookseller and began his writing career.

Yāqūt spent ten years travelling in Persia, Syria, and Egypt and his significance as a scholar lies in his testimony of the great, and largely lost, literary heritage found in libraries east of the Caspian Sea, being one of the last visitors before their destruction by Mongol invaders. He gained much material from the libraries of the ancient cities of Merv – (present-day Turkmenistan), where he had studied for two years, – and of Balkh. Circa 1222 he was working on his "Geography" in Mosul and completed the first draft in 1224. In 1227 he was in Alexandria. From there he moved to Aleppo, where he died in 1229.


  • Kitāb Mu'jam al-Buldān (Arabic: معجم البلدان ) "Dictionary of Countries".(Ar) Book 1 (Ar) Appendix Book 1; Classified a "literary geography", composed between 1224-1228, and completed a year before the author's death. An alphabetical index of place names from the literary corpus of the Arabs, vocalizations, their Arabic or foreign derivation and location. Yaqut supplements geographic descriptions with historical, ethnographic, and associated narrative material with historical sketches and accounts of Muslim conquests, names of governors, monuments, local celebrities etc., and preserves much valuable early literary, historical, biographic and geographic material of prose and poetry. (ed. F. Wüstenfeld, 6 vols., Leipzig, 1866–73)
  • Irshād al-Arīb ilā Ma’rifat al-Adīb or "Dictionary of Learned Men of Yāqūt"; ed. D. S. Margoliouth, 7 vols. ("E. J. W. Gibb Memorial Series," vol.VI; Leiden, Brill 1907-31. download
  • Mu'jam al-Udabā (=Irshād al-Arīb ilā Ma’rifat al-Adīb), (Arabic: معجم الادباء إرشاد الأريب إلا معرفة الأديب ) "Literary Encyclopedia, Expert Guide to Literature" (1226); (Ar.) (Ar., Beirut, 1993).
  • al-Mushtarak wadh'ā wal-Muftaraq Sa'qā (Arabic: المشترک وضعا والمفترق صعقا ); 1845 edition by Ferdinand Wüstenfeld.
Marâçid; a 6-volume Latin edition by Theodor Juynboll, published as Lexicon geographicum, cui titulus est, Marâsid al ittilâ’ ‘ala asmâ’ al-amkina wa-l-biqâ, in 1852. vol.3,
 (alt. 1.(1866) ); 2.(1867); 3.(1868); 4.(1869); 5.(1873); 6.(1870).
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