This is a rare and fascinating manuscript containing twenty original drawings of siege engines and heavy artillery. In the preface, the author gives a short account of his life in which he relates how he was born and brought up in the environs of Granada. He describes how he lived there until the Sultan of the Christians ordered him to leave. He worked for the Spanish on the silver galleons that plied their trade in the Atlantic, until the final expulsion of the Muslims from Spain. He fled to Tunis where the Pasha Uthman Dai gave him charge of a ship, but he was captured by pirates and imprisoned for seven years. On his release he returned to Tunis where he enjoyed the patronage of Yusuf Dai, the ruler of Tunis. He was entrusted with the command of the fort that protected the harbour of Tunis, and wrote this treatise in 1632, drawing on his experience among the Spanish for the artillery men there.
The original work was written in Spanish, his native tongue, and was translated into Arabic in 1638. The present copy was made by Muhammad Khuja ibn Ahmad al-Mutarjim, the son of the translator of the original work, in 1641. Very few copies of this work are known and this may be the earliest known copy; two are in the Chester Beatty Library, one dated 1062/1651 and another fragment dateable to the 11th/18th century. (A handlist of the Arabic manuscripts in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, 1962, Vol. V, no. 4107 and vol. VI, no. 4568).
Another copy is in Vienna and one in Algeria. (Brockelmann, C: GAL, vol.II, p. 465.
A further copy from the Library in Rabat which appears to be 17th century was recently exhibited at the Petit Palais in Paris during the exhibition Maroc, les tresors du royaume.
A copy is in the Egyptian National Museum, Cairo (MS98) (Nasr, H.: Islamic science, an illustrated study, London, 1976, figs. 71 and 72, p. 149)