“Natural” Disasters in the Arabic Astro-meteorological Malḥama Handbooks

  • Kristine Chalyan-Daffner
Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)


This article examines predictions of the “natural” disasters conveyed in the malḥama astro-meteorological handbooks. It analyzes their structure, content, and origin on the basis of a particular treatise of this genre compiled by Ibn Zunbul , a sixteenth-century Egypt ian author. It shows that this genre is a relic of Assyrian-Babylon ian “omina” and the Hermetic tradition of Late Antiquity. Furthermore, it reveals that the text had become incorporated into Arabic tradition, adapting the text’s original character to specific cultural requirements. That is, it absorbed, reflected, and modified interpretations of natural phenomena through a transfer of transcultural knowledge . In this respect, Arab authors reinterpreted catastrophes written down in pre-Islamic ancient cultures , adding new understandings gleaned from cross-cultural interactions.


Solar Eclipse National Library Disastrous Event Lunar Eclipse Annalistic Source 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cluster of Excellence Asia and EuropeUniversität HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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