Category Archives: History

AIYS Seminar, October 30, 2014

oct1
Dr. Amat al-Malik al-Thawr; Dr. Salwa Dammaj; Houda Abalan (Vice Minister of Culture); Sammah Damaj

AIYS organized a seminar on October 30, 2014 on the institute premises. Three working papers were presented. The first one was titled “Manuscripts House in Old City of Sanaa”, the second one’s theme was “Woman Empowerment: Conception and Reality” and the third paper was titled “Woman’s Positions in Yemen’s Ancient Temples”. The seminar brought together a number of academics and researchers from the University of Sanaa and the Yemen Center for Studies and Research, activists and journalists. The Deputy Minister of Culture, Houda Abalan, was in attendance.

The Resident Director of AIYS Dr. Salwa Dammaj started the seminar with short remarks in which she briefed the attendees on the mission and activities of AIYS. Then she introduced the three lecturers who presented the working papers.

Continue reading AIYS Seminar, October 30, 2014

Is there a “Middle Arabic”?

adenibnmuj

Map of Aden in Ibn al-Mujāwir’s text

There is an important new article on so-called “Middle Arabic” from historian Rex Smith and Alex Bellem in the Supplement to the Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 44 (2014): 9–18. Below are the title and summary.

‘Middle Arabic’? Morpho-syntactic features of clashing grammars in a thirteenth-century Arabian text

by Alex Bellem & G. Rex Smith

Summary
There is a body of texts in Arabic the language of which has traditionally been called ‘Middle Arabic’ (MA). The term persists,
although often taken to relate to chronological and historical ‘middleness’ rather than linguistic intermediacy. One perhaps less well-known text composed in this style is Ibn al-Mujāwir’s thirteenth-century Tārīkh al-Mustabṣir.  As is typical of so-called ‘MA’ texts, Classical Arabic (CA) appears to dominate the style, with many non-CA features mixed into the CA base. Often, the non-CA features are essentially typical of Spoken Arabic (SA), so that the language is generally said to be a mix of CA and SA. There are, however, many non-CA features of Tārīkh al-Mustabṣir that do not conform entirely to either CA or SA, yet their use is not unsystematic. For these reasons we reject the term ‘MA’ in favour of ‘Literary Mixed Arabic’ (LMA).

Continue reading Is there a “Middle Arabic”?

Wavell in Yemen: #2

turkguests

[Illustration, Guests in Turkey, from John Clark Ridpath, Ridpath’s History of the World (Cincinnati: The Jones Brothers Publishing Company, 1899), vol IV.]

[Note: Arthur John Byng Wavell (1882-1916) was a British soldier and adventurer who traveled in disguise to Mecca in 1908 and went on to Yemen in 1911 to witness fighting between the Zaydi imam’s troops and the Ottoman Turks. This account was originally published in 1912. For Part One of this series, click here.]

The hour was late and the smoking room almost deserted when the conversation about to be reported took place. My companion the Pasha was a tall, heavy man, on whose sunburned and lined countenance a long life in the open air and many hard-fought campaigns in tropical countries had left their traces. He had been a field marshal once, but that was in the days of Abdul Hamid, when as some one said after the American civil war, “you could not spit out the window without hitting a major-general.” It was to this latter rank that the reshuffle which followed hard on the constitution had reduced him…

The Pasha regarded me with some curiosity.

Continue reading Wavell in Yemen: #2

Yemen Scholars at WOCMES

wocmes

Today is the second day of the WOCMES (World Council on Middle East Studies) conference in Ankara, Turkey.  There are two panels that focus on Yemen; both were organized by AIYS member, Dr. Najwa Adra.  The first is entitled:  Tribalism in the Middle East I: Tribe and Diatribe: Anthropology Meets Political Science

Moderator & Discussant: Lisa Anderson
Dawn Chatty : Syrian Tribes, National Politics and Transnationalism
Najwa Adra : Qabyila: Tribal Identity in Yemen
Daniel Varisco:  Yemen’s Tribal Idiom:  An Ethno-Historical Survey of Genealogical Models (read by Dr. Mohammed Sharafuddin)

The second panel is entitled:  Tribalism in the Middle East II: Tribes in Yemen: the View from within

Moderator & Discussant: Saad Sowayan
Mohammed Sharafuddin : Poetry and Tribalism in Yemen
Adel Mujahid Al Shargabi : The Future Political Role of Yemeni Tribal Sheikhs in Light of the Expected Outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference
Abdul Karim Alaug : Tribalism in the Yemeni National Dialogue Conference

 

 

Manzoni’s Travel Book in Arabic

manzoni2

One of the classic late 19th century travel books on Yemen was by the Italian Renzo Manzoni.  In addition to an informative account of his trip to Sanaa, the illustrations are fantastic.  The original Italian version, El Yèmen: Tre Anni nell’ Arabia Felice, was published in 1884 and is available as a pdf online at archive.org. Recently the Social Fund for Development has sponsored an Arabic version, also available for free in pdf online.

manzoniarabic

AIYS at MESA 2014: Making Yemen’s Islamic History: Engineering, Monuments, Taxes and Stimulants

[P3654] Making Yemen’s Islamic History: Engineering, Monuments, Taxes and Stimulants

 MESA Annual Convention, Washington DC
To be held Monday, 11/24/14 11:00am

•    Written versus archaeological evidence: The example of water and wastewater in medieval Zabid, Yemen by Dr. Ingrid Hehmeyer
•    Ideal and pragmatic tax law in mediaeval Zaydi Yemen by Dr. Eirik Hovden
•    A cultural heritage text from early medieval South Arabia by Dr. Daniel Mahoney
•    Coffee and Qat in Yemen: The Historical and Literary Evidence for their Introduction by Dr. Daniel Martin Varisco
•    Discussant:  Dr. Nancy Ajung Um

SUMMARY:

Scholarship on Islamic history has paid less attention to Yemen than to Iraq, Syria or Egypt. Despite an important corpus of manuscripts and the publication of several significant primary sources, the historical reconstruction of Islamic Yemen lags behind these other regions. This panel brings together historians who work on various periods in Yemen to illustrate how the current historiography is being made. Archaeological fieldwork on the Islamic era has been limited with the notable exception of the Royal Ontario Museum project on Zabid. Based on the excavation of water works in Zabid, one paper compares the material evidence with the description of water engineering schemes in the 16th century Yemeni text History of Zabid by Ibn al-Dayba’, thus showing the importance of archaeology for fleshing out the tantalizing details in written texts. Another paper focuses on the 10th century multi-volume al-Iklil of the Yemeni savant al-Hamdani, who provides a rhetorical landscape of monuments as an aid in the formation and maintenance of the South Arabian political identity in a fashion akin to modern cultural heritage texts. At the same time, al-Hamdani’s reconstruction of Yemen’s pre-Islamic past serves as a mirror of the politics of his own time, with the retreat of the Abbasid presence and the recent arrival of both Zaydis and Isma’ilis to northern Yemen, more than a century before the Ayyubid invasion. The Zaydi presence in Yemen’s north since the late ninth century is the focus of a paper on the tax policies of the Zaydi imams, especially the tension between the traditional zakat on production and other kinds of taxes. This paper discusses both the theological debate about tax collection and recorded information on how taxes were actually collected. Another paper examines the evidence for the introduction of both coffee (Coffea arabica) and qat (Catha edulis) into Yemen, probably during the Rasulid era. Recent research has resolved the issue of the origin of the term “qat” and there is a need to update discussion of the stimulant in previous sources, including the EI. This paper will examine historical, literary, legal and lexical sources as well as Yemeni folklore. Overall the panel provides both an indication of current research and an invitation for other scholars to help make Yemen’s history as well.