Medieval Folk Astronomy and Agriculture in Arabia and the Yemen
The strength of Professor Varisco’s work lies in his combination of ethnographic fieldwork among highland Yemeni farmers with an extensive study of medieval Arabic manuscripts on folk astronomy and agriculture. The opening articles discuss the astronomical concept of the ’lunar stations’ in pre-Islamic Arabia and as developed in Arab astronomy and almanac lore; subsequent ones expand on the significance of this for an agricultural society, and examine a unique corpus of Yemeni agricultural almanacs, dating from the Rasulid period (13th-15th centuries) to the present. A further theme is that of traditional Yemeni agriculture, with studies on irrigation practices, plough cultivation, sorghum production, and indigenous plant protection methods, as well as the use of star calendars for seasonal markers.
'Medieval Folk Astronomy and Agriculture in Arabia and the Yemen is a noteworthy addition to the growing literature on theoretical and applied sciences in Middle Eastern Studies...Students of Yemeni rural life and folk beliefs can...gain much from Varisco’s work...scholars will benefit from this collection.' Bulletin of the Middle East Studies Association, No. 33