al-Andalus Agricultural Water Secrets established a Fertile Land
The "Sons of the Desert"introduced innovative agricultural expertise to the Iberian Peninsula. The Arabs had acquired sophisticated agricultural techniques, alongside a highly-developed water science. The lands of Iberia were similar in fertility and climate - as those of Syria.
al-Andalus Territories were Referred to as an Amazing Garden...
Agricultural techniques and botanical studies were acquired by the riverine peoples of Mesopotamia.
Ancient agriculture was practised around the area of the Fertile Crescent - from as far back as from Babylonia, 6000 BC and the Persian Empire, 5th century BC.
An acequia surrounding the Alhambra
The acequia-base is pacted-earth. Elm trees
are naturally irrigated
Secret Nº 1: Andalucia's Biggest Secrets
Secret Nº 2: The Moors Knew "How to Harness Snow melt-Waters"
Secret Nº 3: Hydrology Mechanics
Secret Nº 4: Organic Growing
Secret Nº 5: Plant Introduction
Secret Nº 6: The Importance of the Calender
Secret Nº 7: Terraced Agriculture
Secret nº 8: Land Ownership versus European Serfdom
Secret Nº 9: The Love of Flowers
Secret Nº 10: The Guadalquivir
On the Iberian Peninsula, Ancient Greek Hydrology, had been replicated and improved on, by the Romans.
All Three Civilizations: Greeks, Romans and Arabs maintained that personal hygiene was of maximum importance to keep the population healthy.
The Moors built public baths - even in the tiniest hamlets.
In comparison, the populaces of Medieval Europe - even Royalty - were filthy and smelly.
A medieval misinterpretation of Galen's theory regarding the importance of keeping the pores of the body open.
The misconstrued theory: water sealed the body's pores.
Thermal Roman Baths, Public lavatories and sewerage systems had been distributed throughout the Roman settlements
on the Iberian Peninsula. The Moors maintained and improved the Roman installations.
Secret nº 1
The Moors were stunned at the area's wealth of water. A major fact of al-Andalus agricultural water secrets, was the snow melt-water from the Sierra Nevada
Renaissance mechanics sourced the suction pump from Moorish Agricultural Science.
- acequias: irrigation channels
- qanats: mined underground water channels
- aljibes: large water storage tanks
- many of these installations remain in use today.
They also knew how to drain rivers - the Moors built Azuds: small dams.
Valencia: The Turia River was dammed in several places.
Valencia became a major European rice-producing area as a consequence.
Water powered Norias
extracted water from fast flowing rivers.
During the height of the Cordovan Caliphate there were over 12,000 villages near Cordoba. The improved diet of the al-Andalus caused a population explosion. Spain had more than 30,000,000 inhabitants. In comparison: Britain, Germany, France and Italy had between 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 inhabitants.
Over 5,000 (norias) waterwheels functioned in the area of the Guadalquivir valley during the 13th century
Model of a Water Wheel
exibited in Torre de la Calahorra
Divine Water Technology
Water-powered, water-extracting machine
Saqiyas superseded the water-power of the Noria, employing animal power.
al-Jazari: a genius in the design of many 13th century water pumps and small and large water clocks. Water clocks technology transferred to Europe.
Ship Mills were placed in the middle of rivers, utilizing the faster currents, to maximum advantage, avoiding slower summer-currents. Three historic mill houses were the ones placed in the flow of the Guadalquivir, Cordoba. They functioned from the 12th century - and continued to mill - for centuries.
The Importance of Diet
The Moors, Romans and Ancient Greeks, maintained a nutritious diet prevented disease. It was the base of a healthy society. What is the Mediterranean Diet
Moorish Agriculture and its manifold Botanical studies undertaken in the al-Andalus were deeply connected to Moorish Medicine Health Care, Moorish Medicine and Moorish Medicine Education..
, Maimonides and Ibn Wafid wrote and investigated Nutrition, extensively. Ayurvedic law influenced the effect of different seasons on each individual's constitution.
Studies revealed 'healing foods' existed. Today those discoveries are proven facts. What grew naturally in the Iberia peninusla, comprised, what is known as the Mediterranean Diet.
Olives, cereals and grapes were the base diet, combined with pulses, fruit, nuts, fish, dairy products, poultry and lamb.
Prior to adminstering medication was: the "importance of diet."
Siesta-time was highly recommended - and remains so to this day.
Diet was aligned with the benefits of physical exercise.
Most herbs and spices had a specific purpose in maintaining good health.
New Plants and Diet
As the Islamic Empire expanded the Moors' diet became more elaborate.
Vegetable spices were discovered in Tropical and sub-Tropical areas. Gastronomy evolved, incorporating the use of the new plants and spices.
Special Acclimatization for the New Plants
Many of new plants were first acclimatized in the fertile lands of Mesopotamia, where careful observation, aimed to match the original geographical and climatic conditions from where the plants originated.
The Moors loved nature. Painstaking studies of the varied soil-types and each plant's reactions, were very long-terms plans - immitating nature.
They brought variations of new plants and spices with them, (acquired during Islamic expansion), to al-Andalusia. They repeated the meticulous plant-introduction - as had been done in Mesopotamia.
New plants were first acclimatized in the royal gardens of Madinat az-Zahara or in the Alhambra Granada Spain, where expert botanists such as Ibn Bassal and Ibn-al-Awwam would carefully document plant reaction and progress.
The imported and planted crops were accustomed to varied conditions of humidity and different degrees of heat-exposure.
What Plants came to al-Andalusia?
One of the al Andalus agricultural water secrets was the new plants: sugar-cane and cotton
especially, transformed the andalusi society.
Following in importance were:
Vegetables aubergines, artichokes, asparagus introduced by Ziryab as a new Andalucia food, spinach.
Fruits Cherries, coconuts, oranges, lemons, limes pomegranates, melons, peaches, bananas, strawberrries - (Figs grew indigenously, however the prized Doñegal strain was sneaked in from Constantinople and became famed as a Malaga Fig.
Grains Old world grasses (sorghum), rice, hard wheat, maize.
Spices cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, mustard, ginger, saffron.
Planted Crops had Three Different Purposes
- As Human food
- Animal Fodder
- As Fibre
The Moors added appreciable quality to the vines of Iberian Peninsula.
Equally, existing olive trees and oil produce was extensively improved.
Mulberry trees were planted exclusively for their leaves: base-diet of silk worms. Spanish silk was extremely popular in Europe during the Dark Ages.
Organic growing was established and studied for heightened productivity.
- Soil-types were meticulously studied
- Each area's conditions were recorded over many years
- Different manures were applied, according the needs of individual soil-types
- Crop-rotations were strictly observed, (contrasting with Medieval European rotation methods - based on 2 or 3 yearly rotations)
Moorish agriculture rotation spanned several years. That period was intensely analysed and documented. Finally, the land was planted with alfalfa, legumes or clover, purposely, to regenerate the soil
- Soil was tilled in preparation for planting: 'what was needed where'
Cordoba Calender Note: Author Chris Stewart commented about how the Spanish had rote-learned 'seemingly strange botanical laws' i.e. : when to plant, when to prune, when to water, which moon-stage was best to prune...
- Calender dates were observed closely
- Irrigation schedules were meticulously arranged:(Communal or individual plots)
- Convenient watering hours depended on your social status
- Irrigation schedules included prayer-times
- Best harvest dates were recorded
- Religious Holidays were observed and celebrated
- The Cordoba Calender was published 961 AD: A Precise Botanical Observation Calender which was linked to Christian Holy Holidays
The knowledge that evolved from the al-Andalus period was admirably linked to Christian holy dates in the Cordovan Calender. Thus it was easy for the Spanish, to remember i.e. that on "Todos los Santos: All Saints Day (November 1st), broad beans were always planted."
To this day - that learning prevails.
Medieval Purposes of Spices
Spices during those times, were used by other European countries, to disguise the 'rancidness' of food.
al-Andalus diet focused on the taste of the fresh nutrients. To this day, those herbs and spices, enhance Andalusian Gastronomy, helping digestion and blood purification.
The Moorish Savants studied and used herbs in alternative medicine: anodynes, sedatives, carminitives, or purgatives.
Even the driest, highest areas on the Iberian Peninsula were cultivated. The Arabs taught 'how to build terraces' - on heights - in order to protect the soil from erosion during the rainy seasons.
Terraced soil was continually treated and improved with carefully prepared composts, specifically suited to each soil-type. Viticulture crops and trees: figs, almonds or olives were best suited to the Alpujarrean type of soil and climate.
This was a previously barren and arid area. Moorish agriculture crops were meticulously irrigated, even on impossible perched heights, encouraging local micro-climates, transforming the Alpujarras.
The terraced plots of the Alpujarras, Granada
The Alpujarras was planted with many Mulberry trees, the staple diet of the silk-worm. Silk production became a chief industry in the Alpujarras.
Almeria and Sevilla were principle areas for silk-weaving.
Fabulous silk rugs and carpets were produced during the period of the al-Andalus agricultural and water secrets.
As a result of the Reconquista, Alpujarrean silk production died. Most of the terraced farming so carefully introduced and nutured was abandoned. The area lost its enormous value in Moorish agriculture
Whole valleys are blessed with the beauty of the almond blossom
in the Alpujarras during January and February.
Moorish Agriculture revolutionized previous epoch-administrations: i.e. Roman or Gothic which had functioned with vast estates. The Arabs disapproved of slavery.
The Arabs prioritized that al-Andalusi lands, be divided into small plots - to be managed independently. Peasants were thus encouraged to work their own land with care and pride to a point of excellence. People were able to buy and sell their properties.
Those small farms were tilled zealously, planted with as many seasonal crops as possible and irrigated punctiliously. Taxes were not excessive and small plot land-owners reaped benefits from their hard work.
Benefits of Public Education on Moorish Agriculture
Able to read: farmers studied in local Agriculture Schools. Studies were of extensive al-Andalusi research treatises on agriculture and meteorology. They learned, in-depth, how plant-saps progessed and rested. New sytems of grafting evolved and were utilised. They learned how to protect crops ecologicially from plagues.
Preventing Bad Years
Superabundance of cereal crops and acorn forest crops of acorns were not exported but were carefully hoarded and stored in buried "dry rock" chambers. This wisdom stemmed from a Koran law - not to sell their surplus - but to provide for times of famine.
Animal husbandry was equally studied.
Transhumancia: evolved taking herds of Extremaduran goats and sheep, high into the Pyrenees, to consume the summer mountain pastures thus avoiding the summer-drought period.
Each land cultivator had been involved in building the Moorish agriculture irrigation channel-systems. They knew intimately "how the channels worked and how to repair them": (unlike the Roman army - not the peasants - who had undertaken construction of the Roman acqueducts).
In Europe existed a feudal system. Vassals saw no reward for their hard work.
The Love of Flowers
Certain plants improved soil-quality and were cultivated purposely for their benefits. Flowers were loved for their beauty and perfume. Seeds and plants were sought from every corner of the world to be planted in the al-Andalus kingdom.
Spain was a garden of delights. Fields were bountiful with varied crops. There were over 50,000 private gardens during the Cordovan Caliphate.
Chemistry evolved the Perfumery industry. Botanical studies were vast and meticulous.
Islamic reference to water, was that it was a scarce and divine gift. The Moors mended and improved the surviving Roman aqueducts. Muslims believed in the "Law of Thirst"
ordained in the Qu'ran.
The "Law of Thirst" permitted upstream-users to divert rivers, providing they took only an ankle's depth of water. After that water was redirected back downstream again.
The Moors diverted two rivers: The Guadalquivir and the Darro
In 1238 The Nasrid Sultan Ibn al-Ahmar had the River Darro diverted and pumped uphill, 6 kms, to feed the Alhambra Granada Spain Palaces.
Spellbinding Moorish Water Gardens, shaded patios, such as the Patio de los Naranjos outside the Cordoba Mosque, lily ponds, the resonance of rippling water recreated a symbolic Paradise on Earth in the Alhambra Granada Generalife gardens.
Alhambra expression centers on the transcendence of water.
Wadi al-Kabir: The Great River
Alongside the Ebro river, the Tagus and Guadiana, the Guadalquivir
features as one of the longest rivers in Spain.
The Guadalquivir River
The Source of the Guadalquivir River rises in the Sierra de Cazorla (1,600mtrs above sea-level) in Jaen.
Traversing westward for 657kms through the Andalucian region, to sortie in Sanlucar de Barrameda in the Atlantic Ocean.
Draining a land-surface of: 57,803 square kms.
The Guadalquivir river has over 800 tributaries.
The Guadalquivir has extensive fertile plains.
Its natural habit is one of Europe's richest sources of Flora and Fauna.
Irrigation of the Guadalquivir Vegas: Fertile Plains, created a vast source of agricultures: wheat and barley crops, viticulture, 35% olive groves and sunflowers. Surrounding forests are oaks and pines.
Pastures of Antequera
Fauna indigenous to the Guadalquivir: wild boar, mountain goats, deer, partidge and rabbits.
Fish Trout and barbels.
The Genil river is a main tributary to the Guadalquivir. The source of the Genil is melt-waters of the Sierra Nevada.
Rio Frio, (in Granada) is an important area for trout, salmon piscifactories: fish farming. Rio Frio Caviar competes with Russian Caviar.
The Historic Importance of the Guadalquivir River
The Guadalquivir river was THE centre-point for both of Spain's Golden Ages
was the capital when the Spanish conquest ships departed and arrived bringing amazing wealth to the Iberian Peninsula.
was capital of Cordoba's Caliphate
Both were the most successful periods in Spain.
Each city owed a great deal to the situation of the Guadalquivir River.
Water, the sophisticated knowledge and application of its usage was "civilization." This led to the prodigious metropolitan al-Andalusi success.
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