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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2006


This article returns to an old but not hitherto satisfactorily solved question, and aims at putting forward a new approach to the study of the sources and authorship of two contemporary treatises on agriculture: the Nabatean Agriculture (in Arabic al-Filāḥa al-nabaṭiyya) and the Geoponica. Each of them embodies a long tradition reaching from Antiquity to the 10th century in two different cultural provinces expressed in Greek / Latin and Arabic languages. But there is another common feature of these works. Both of them survived in a significant number of manuscripts, and constitute a kind of revision of previous compilations which drew their contents from more ancient treatises brought to light between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD, and to some extent could be qualified as the outcome of an effort for systematising the corpus of agronomical science. Texts and translations from Greek to Latin, from Greek to Syriac or to Arabic, and from Arabic to Armenian attest to this cultural intercommunication.

Research Article
2006 Cambridge University Press

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I gratefuly acknowledge my indebtedness to many people and institutions for generous help of various kinds: Prof. Bernd Manuwald / Rheinisches Museum; Renate Sawada / Göttingen Akademie der Wissenschaften; Britta Hermann / Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften; Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften; Prof. Ulrich Schwitzer / Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg; Prof. Fuat Sezgin / Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, in Frankfurt; Krister Östlund / Institutionen för Lingvistik och Filologi, Klassiska språk / Uppsala Universitet; Ana del Puerto / Instituto Egipcio, in Madrid; Ana M. Goy Yamamoto / Centro de Estudios de Asia Oriental / Universidad Autónoma de Madrid; Instituto de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria del Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación de Espanha; Valentina Alexeevna Nokhrina / Russian Academy of Agronomic Sciences, in Moscow; Mark Zapatka / Dumbarton Oaks Library, and Hayet Naccache / Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain, in Tunis, and Prof. Iraj Afshar / University of Teheran. Special acknowledgement must be addressed to the Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa (CNPq), which supported this research with a post-doctorate grant, the Department of History of the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto. Finally, to Prof. Ciro Flamarion S. Cardoso, Universidade Federal Fluminense and to Prof. Expiración García Sánchez, of the Escuela de Estudios Árabes (Córdoba, Spain), for criticism and encouragement when this study was still embryonic, and Prof. Robert H. Rodgers / University of Vermont, who most generously made comments and suggestions for smoothing out the English.