Al-Idrisi was born Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Idris Ash-Sharif in 1099 C.E. Also known by his abbreviated name Al-Sharif Al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi, he was educated at Cordova and became a cartographer and geographer of major significance during the medieval period. Indeed, many scholars regard him as the greatest geographer and cartographer of the Middle Ages. From his birthplace in Sebtah (now Ceuta, Spain) on the North African coast near the Straight of Gibraltar, Idrisi traveled widely throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia Minor. Commissioned by King Roger of Sicily to prepare a geographical survey of the world, Idrisi led a collaboration of scholars and technicians of the Rogerian Court at Palermo. The maps and text that resulted from their combined effort served as primary references for over 500 years. Al-Idrisi is best known in the West as the geographer who made a silver globe for King Roger II of Sicily. On a 400 kilogram ball of silver, he meticulously recorded the seven continents with trade routes, lakes and rivers, major cities, plains and mountains. He included such information as distance, length and height as appropriate. The globe was accompanied by his book, Al-Kitab al-Rujari (Roger's Book). He also made a second representation of the known world on a disc. Al-Idrisi was better known than other Muslim geographers because ships and navigators from the North Sea, Atlantic, and Mediterranean frequented Sicily which was under Muslim rule before King Roger. Muslim works were freely available for transmission to Europe through Latin West.
Several of his books were translated into Latin and his books on geography were popular for several centuries.Al-Idrisi died circa 1166 C.E.