Map of the Three Arabias: Excerpted Partly from the Arab of Nubia, Partly from Several Other Authors


This map of “the three Arabias” by French royal geographer Nicolas Sanson d’Abbeville is one of the few 17th-century maps of the Arabian Peninsula. Despite its importance as a crossroads of trade between three continents, the geography of Arabia remained largely unknown to European cartographers until the era of European exploration and expansion in the 15th century. Although published in 1654–by the Parisian printer and engraver Pierre Mariette-Sanson’s map remained largely based on the medieval work of the 12th-century Arab cartographer Al-Idrisi (1099-1164), whose work Geographia Nubiensis was first translated into French only in 1619. By the 17th century, French silk weavers had begun to challenge the long-standing predominance of Italian silkmakers, and French involvement in the silk trade fostered a new interest in its Arabian epicenter. The three Arabias referred to in the map’s title are Arabia Petraea, the northwestern area encompassing the Sinai Peninsula and Jordan, Arabia Deserta, the northernmost area just south of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and Arabia Felix, by far the largest territory covering most of the peninsula and extending from the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the northwest to the coasts of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. “Bahraim” (sic) is also separately demarcated along the northwestern shore of the Persian Gulf.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Pierre Mariette, Paris


Title in Original Language

Carte des trois Arabies : tirée en partie de l'Arabe de Nubie, en partie de divers autres auteurs

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : color ; 39 x 47 centimeters

Last updated: February 12, 2016