The Christian Topography of Cosmas, an Egyptian Monk: Translated from the Greek, and Edited with Notes and Introduction

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The publications of the Hakluyt Society (founded in 1846) made available edited (and sometimes translated) early accounts of exploration. The first series, which ran from 1847 to 1899, consists of 100 books containing published or previously unpublished works by authors from Christopher Columbus to Sir Francis Drake, and covering voyages to the New World, to China and Japan, to Russia and to Africa and India. This volume, first published in 1897, contains the first English translation of the Greek monk Cosmas Indicopleustes' description of the universe and of his voyages to India, written c.550 C.E. His vivid descriptions of India, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia provide invaluable information on vanished monuments and cultures, though his book also insistently proposes that the earth is flat and denounces the 'Pagans' (mainstream ancient philosophers including Ptolemy) who, like most of Cosmas' Christian contemporaries, argued in favour of a spherical earth.