ARAB CONTRIBUTIONS TO HYDRONYMY: THE DETECTING OF UNDERGROUND WATER THAT LED TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF WATER WELLS
Free (open access)
13 - 25
ALI BAKR HASSAN
This paper focuses on Arab contributions to agricultural heritage in early Islam. It explores their knowledge and use of certain plants and rocks as methods of detecting underground water, which ultimately led to the construction of water wells and irrigation systems. Arabs called this kind of knowledge cIlm al-Riyâfah. “Hydronymy” would be the closest term to this kind of knowledge in the West. In the absence of modern technology, these older methods for detecting underground water are still highly practical and useful today – especially in desert areas. Arabs used some signs as indicators for underground water. In the mountains, they depended on the color of certain spots. In the valleys, there were some human experts to guide people where to dig for water. In the desert, Arabs relied on plants. They recorded these plants and used them as indicators to dig for water. A compiled list of these plants, along with their images, scientific names, and brief descriptions, is provided. These plants have some interesting commonalities. The roots of some plant species, for example can extend as far as fifty meters below the surface trying to reach hidden water. Also, some of these plants are thorny, distasteful, or toxic. These capabilities allowed them to persist and survive, despite harsh conditions, droughts, and famine. Many of these plants were used for traditional medicine as they have been prescribed by Avicenna, Rhazes and Ibn al-Baytâr. This study explores another usage of these plants, which is detecting underground water.
Bi’r, water wells, underground waters, Arab usage of plants and conduits, Arabs and hydronomy, Arabs’ contributions to hydrology