Access to Arabic farming handbooks

by Jeremy Cherfas on April 21, 2011

The question of how farming originally spread across Europe continues to exercise scholars, although I reckon a fair conclusion today is that the farmers (and their crops and livestock) moved, rather than just their technology (and crops and livestock). At least, that’s true for pre-history. For more recent times, it is clear that knowledge travelled, and one way it did so was in a series of texts in Arabic known collectively as the Kutub al-Filāḥa or ‘Books of Husbandry’. This fantastic historical resource is now available online at the The Filāḥa Texts Project. Alas, there doesn’t seem to be a feed of any kind to tell me when new material is posted, but it is possible to join the project network. I have nothing to offer but my interest; I hope that’s enough.

And thanks to Rachel Laudan, where I learned of the project. She has already raised the fascinating possibility that light will in future be shed on how Arabic influences travelled from Spain to Mexico.

Stop Press: Razib Khan at Gene Expression explains how farmers conquered Eurasia between 10,000 and 5,000 years ago.

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Dave Wood April 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I remember using – via an Cambridge arabist I was working with – a treatise on Yemeni agriculture – probably Al-Malik al-Ashraf’s Milḥ al-malāḥa fī ma‘rifat al-filāḥa. It was very detailed and very useful for the year I spent in Yemen collecting (around 1978??). But the staggering thing in Yemen is not so much the crops as the superb water management and terracing.

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