22026751911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 17 — Mas'ūdīGriffithes Wheeler Thatcher

MASʽŪDĪ (Abū–l Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn Ḥusain ibn ʽAlī ul-Masʽūdī) (d. c. 956), Arabian historian, was born at Bagdad towards the close of the 9th century. Much of his life was spent in travel. After he had been in Persia and Kerman, he visited Istakhr in 915, and went in the following year to Mūltān and Manṣūra, thence to Cambay, Saimur and Ceylon, to Madagascar and back to Oman. He seems about this time to have been as far as China. After a visit to the shores of the Caspian Sea he visited Tiberias in Palestine, examined the Christian church there, and described its relics. In 943 he was in Antioch, studying the ruins, and two years later in Damascus. The last ten years of his life he spent in Syria and Egypt. His great object in life had been to study with his own eyes the peculiarities of every land and to collect whatever was of interest for archaeology, history and manners. Himself a Mo‘tazilite (see Mahommedan Religion: Sects), he was singularly free from bigotry, and took his information, when necessary, from Persians, Jews, Indians, and even the chronicle of a Christian bishop.

His most extensive work was the Kitāb akhbār uz-Zamān or Annals, in 30 volumes with a supplement, the Kitāb ul-Ausaṭ, a chronological sketch of general history. Of these the first part only of the former is extant in MS. in Vienna, while the latter seems to be in the Bodleian Library, also in MS. The substance of the two was united by him in the work by which he is now best known, the Murūj udh-Dhahab wa Ma‘ādin ul-Jawāhir (“Meadows of Gold and Mines of Precious Stones”), an historical work which he completed in 947. In 956 he finished a second edition of this and made it double its former size, but no copy of this seems to be extant. The original edition has been published at Bulāq and Cairo, and with French translation by C. Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille (9 vols., Paris, 1861–1877). Another work of Masʽūdī, written in the last year of his life, is the Kitāb ut-Tanbīh wal Ishrāf (the “Book of Indication and Revision”), in which he summarizes the work of his life and corrects and completes his former writings. It has been edited by M. J. de Goeje (Leiden, 1894), and a French translation has been made by Carra de Vaux (Paris, 1896); cf. also the memoir of S. de Sacy published in Meynard’s edition of the Murūj.

An account of Masʽūdī’s works is to be found in de Sacy’s memoir and in Goeje’s preface to his edition of the Tanbīh, and of the works extant in C. Brockelmann’s Gesch. der Arabischen Litteratur, i. 144–145 (Weimar, 1898). C. Field’s Tales of the Caliphs (1909) is based on Masʽūdī.  (G. W. T.)