There is a rich corpus of texts about agriculture during the Rasulid era (13th–15th centuries CE) in Yemen. One of the most important crops at the time was the date palm (nakhl), which was grown in the Tihāma coastal region, Najrān and Ḥaḍramawt. This essay provides a translation and analysis of the section on date palms in the 13th century agricultural treatise Milḥ al-malāḥa fī ma‘rifat al-filāḥa, written by the Rasulid sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf ‘Umar. Details are provided on the varieties of dates, their cultivation, pollination and protection from insects and diseases.
Daniel Martin Varisco is President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies. He has taught at Hofstra University in New York and Qatar University. He has worked in Yemen since 1978 as an anthropologist, development consultant and historian. This essay is part of a long-term research project on agriculture during the Rasulid era.