MESA Banner
The Microeconomics of Highland Yemeni Agriculture in the Late 13th Century
In the late 13th century near the end of the long reign of the Rasulid sultan al-Malik al-Muẓaffar Yūsuf a wide variety of reports were sent to the court and later compiled in an archival manuscript entitled Nūr al-ma‘ārif by the modern editor. In addition to information on commodities passing through the southern port of Aden and production activities throughout the Rasulid zone, there are details on local agriculture near the southern highland capital of Ta‘izz. These include timings of agricultural activities, amounts of fertilizer to be applied and yields of cereal crops according to the land quality. Costs are provided for rental of ox teams, payment for the plowman and individuals involved in harvesting, threshing and winnowing. Responsibilities of sharecroppers are described, as well as compensation for natural disasters, like locust damage. In addition there are notes on the costs of transport of various fruits within the region. These eye-witness reports about specific farm land owned by the court supplement the information on the range of crops and their cultivation methods in two extant Rasulid agricultural treatises, several almanacs and court-ordered tax surveys. This paper examines the information provided on the microeconomics of farm management and practice, which is rare and fills in gaps in the agricultural treatises of Rasulid Yemen.
Geographic Area
Sub Area