Number 2. 2014
Estudios bizantinos is a digital and international open-access journal of Byzantine Studies. It has been created by the Sociedad Española de Bizantinística and it welcomes scientific papers with original and high-quality content on any aspect of the Byzantine civilisation.

Giuseppe Mandalà

The Rome of the Arabs is, in part, the result of a literary misunderstanding, a city imagined as real but in fact imaginary; such a representation did not come from the “wilder imaginations” of the Arabs, nor from a philological misunderstanding, that is, a presumed Arabic confluence of the names of the two great capitals – Rome and Constantinople – whose names and representations always remain, in any case, entirely distinct and separate. Arabic Rome is a real city that buried its historical, topographical and cultural meaning with a single idea, the renovatio or rather translatio Romae, in other words, the political ideology that wanted Constantinople as the New, and sometimes only, Rome. The present study analyses the use of the lemma “Rome” in the Awḍaḥ al-masālik ilà ma‘rifat al-buldān wa-l-mamālik (The clearer itinerary for the understanding of places and countries), a geographical dictionary compiled by Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī al-Būrsawī, better known as Ibn Sibāhī-zāde (m. 997 H./1589 A.D.). The analysis of this later description allows for unknown details to be retreived and moreover permits one to see how, in the specific field of Arabo-Islamic geography, the authority of tradition is passed down through the centuries, prevailing over every possible direct knowledge.
Keywords: immagine araba di Roma, Costantinopoli nelle fonti arabo-islamiche, Ibn Sibāhī-zāde, geografia arabo-islamica, renovatio e translatio Romae, periferie della memoria