TITLE: Encyclopaedia of the Orient

ACCESS: http://i-cias.com/e.o/index.htm

Audience: General; college students, particularly those beginning study of North African culture, history, or language

Author: Tore Kjeilen, Centre d'Information Arabe Scandinave. Tore Kjeilen is a Norwegian citizen who, following post-graduate studies in North Africa, lived and traveled in the region, worked on the foreign news desk at TV2 Norway, and now manages CiAS and its web site full-time. The site is currently active. Sample entries, checked for accuracy against print sources, contained valid information.

Idiosyncrasies: The site uses frames but works well within them. The interface is appealing and intuitive, and graphical help is available. Clicking certain pages launches another browser session. Applets serve a surprisingly useful function, providing commercials for the site itself, demonstrating help instructions, or supporting the content of the articles. A few broken links exist, and some entries are under construction. An audio feature on some of the articles launches a player which pronounces the defined term in Arabic.

General review: Most users are likely to misinterpret the name of this resource, which deals with North Africa and its culture. This resource is particularly useful for its definitions of religious terms which are likely to be unfamiliar to a college student learning about North African culture or religions. Besides the solid coverage of Muslim and Zoroastrian terms, there are entries dealing with Babism and even with the Mandean religion. A sizable number of entries cover geographic features, and many of these are enlivened with pictures and other technology. The applet under the entry for Andalucia, for example, which demonstrates the Moorish conquest of Spain, is not to be missed. Many of the remaining entries deal with recent history, current events, and famous figures. Perhaps because of its non-American origin or the author's interest in the region, issues are presented in a light more sympathetic to Arab interests than the average American expects. The Encyclopaedia of the Orient is useful on its own but is intended by the author to be used in conjunction with another resource available on the site, Miftah Shamali, a graphically presented geographical overview or "virtual tour" of North Africa.

Reviewer Name: Clare B. Dunkle
Position: Monographs Cataloger
Institution: Trinity University
E-mail address: cdunkle@trinity.edu
Date of review: 10/24/1997

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