The Muslims And Irrigation

Irrigation agriculture and hydraulic technology are themes that reappear throughout this book. This is due not only to their undoubted significance in the economics of both societies but also to the fact that, as Jacques Berque wisely recognized in his study of Berber irrigation systems in the High Atlas, water distribution arrangements are so complex and idiosyncratic that they can be treated as historical documents and provide a rich source of information concerning the structure of society...

Settlement Of The Plains

The Muslims' onslaught and their early retreat behind a climatic frontier resulted in the depopulation of substantial buffer zones between the two societies. The extent of the depopulation differed from place to place. Both in the far east and far west, early Muslim aggressivity seems to have resulted in the removal of substantial numbers of the original inhabitants Septimania, the Roman province straddling the eastern Pyrenees, may in the eighth century have been as deserted as the Duero...

The Arab Green Revolution

The introduction and acclimatization of new crops, a powerful component of the economic growth of al-Andalus, followed the same pattern of diffusion as the irrigation systems and techniques used to grow them. Of the plants brought by the Arabs to the peninsula (those whose Arabic names passed into the Spanish languages are noted in Table I), the seeds of many must have been brought by anonymous cultivators. Yet more formal methods of introduction are recorded. 'Abd al-Rahm n I, whose nostalgia...

Question of Names

The names found throughout this book describing the geographical hearths of the ethnic groups that have inhabited the Iberian peninsula have been used at different times in different senses. The historical emergence of such names as Spain, Castile, Catalonia responds to discrete processes of cultural differentiation and ethnic ascription and, as Castro indicated, signals diachronic boundaries between different cultures. Because such processes are among the central themes of this discussion,...

The Arab State from Province to Caliphate

The history of Islamic Spain through the tenth century may be conveniently divided into two phases (1) a period of adjustment extending from around 715, when a governor (wall) was appointed and the newly captured territory began to be organized as a province of the Umayyad caliphate of Damascus, until the mid-ninth century, at which time the governmental apparatus was reorganized to bring it into line with a society that had grown vastly more complex since the inception of Arab 36 rule and (2)...

Arboriculture

Irrigated field crops were complemented by the standard Mediterranean vine and tree crops, the most important of which were olives, the fig, and grapes. Although these three crops were generally considered to occupy the same ecological niche -- hill country and unirrigated plateaux -- fig trees were frequently used as borders on irrigated fields and grapes were often irrigated, when practicable, to increase yields.(61) We have mentioned the olive before in connection with the frontier the pale...

The Noria Revolution

The introduction of the noria in any district has always had revolutionary consequences upon agricultural productivity. If introduced into an area where river irrigation has been practiced for example, Ptolemaic Egypt , it lessens the dependence of gravity-flow canals on fluctuations in the level of the river the Nile, in the case of Egypt by using nongeared, water-driven wheels to raise the water. 52 The geared wheel, moved by harnessing animal traction to it, may have an even more dramatic...

The Collapse of the Visigothic State and the Islamic Conquest

The Visigothic state which the Muslims found such an easy victim was an ethnically stratified society, with a fragmented political structure, a depressed and unbalanced rural economy, and a town life which was rudimentary at best. These Goths who also called themselves Thervings, or 28 People of the Woods were a herding people who, entering the peninsula in the early sixth century, tended to settle in areas ecologically suited to their traditional economic pursuits. Thus the greatest...

Culture Contact and the Polemic of Spanish Historiography

Spaniards have, of course, been aware since the middle ages that many traits of their culture were acquired from the Muslims. They knew this 7 because of the formalized continuity of certain customary arrangements, exemplified in repeated legal strictures that these were to continue as was the custom in the time of the Moors. A large number of words in the peninsular Romance tongues were easily recognized as Arabisms, and popular diffusionist notions attributed a Moorish origin to a wide...

Christian Acknowledgments

This project was suggested to me by Professor John H. Parry, who encouraged me to pursue a comparative approach. Originally this book was to appear in a multi-volumed history of Spain in English. Under the auspices of Ediciones Grijalbo the series continues in Spanish, where this volume will appear next to those on the later middle ages by Jocelyn Hillgarth, whose encouragement and advice were significant in the elaboration of my own view of Spanish culture. The entire volume was read in...