SEARCHING FOR THE CARMATHIANS

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Last month, I travelled to Bahrain with FiND trying to find Ancient Arabia. More especially I was searching for the Carmathians. Promisingly described as ‘those who took small actions’ or ‘those that write in tiny letters,’ they were a radical messianic Ismaili group who regulationed in southerly Iraq and also the historical Al Ahsa, which covers Eastern Saudi Arabia and modern-day Bahrain.

They weren’t fairly ancient, living some 2 centuries after the Hijra, however their dissident background is just as marginalised as that of the pre-Islamic Jahiliyya duration. Today, they’re grudgingly remembered for their rebellions against the Abbasid Caliphate, in which they sacked Mecca, stole the Black Stone of the Kaaba, and also desecrated the Well of Zamzam with corpses.

The preference appears to be to reject them as loutish pirates, if they should be mentioned whatsoever. Nominally egalitarian despite having servants, they likewise tried to develop a theocratic utopian republic there in 899 CE– a contradiction which intrigues me. They were also, seemingly impossibly for the time, vegetarian.

Or so my first study assured.

I have actually long been amazed by straight movements in history, specifically when they converge with mysticism, from the middle ages Brethren of the Free Spirit to Jordan’s sufi-anarchists. The Carmathians allowed advocates of collective ownership, which related to both land and slaves; the latter were considered the home not of individuals, yet the whole neighborhood. Likewise, anybody can grind their grain cost free at the state-maintained mills.

There was a durable welfare state which granted interest-free car loans to any person in need, along with to craftsmen newly-arrived in Al Ahsa to make sure that they might develop a brand-new business there. All repairs of personal property were done by the state, which also conveniently financed armed forces as well as raiding explorations. Replace artisans with entrepreneurs, armed forces raids with higher education, and you begin to see some truly intriguing alongside the modern tax-free Gulf city

Yet as a vegetarian myself, it was their supposed culinary routines which truly drew me in. For hundreds of years, human settlement in Bahrain has been nearly totally bound up with seafaring. Maybe extrapolated that the diet of the Carmathians, like those before and also after them, greatly count the fruits of the sea.

Provided the aridity of the Arabian Peninsula, a durable farming society would seem impossible numerous centuries before the development of modern synthetic watering. That leaves trade– and also some state, pirating– which would have been a consistent, yet did they actually survive entirely on imports?

Qalat al Bahrain

We spent our initial complete day in Bahrain at the old Portuguese fort– and also once resources of the ancient Dilmun civilisation of Qalat al Bahrain, returning at night for a talk by Dr. Randolf Rausch. Though ostensibly billed as being about the impressive of Gilgamesh, in practice it was a large sweep via the hydrogeological background of the peninsula. We learned about the constellation of freshwater springs that enabled the old civilisation of Dilmun to thrive, along with an education and learning in groundwater and karst aquifer systems. A few of these springs were even located undersea; fishermen were able to dive and also collect this ‘pleasant water’ in leather bags to renew their safe and clean water supply while out mixed-up.

Although today water table exhaustion suggests that these springs have just about dried up– a paltry 1% of the island is now considered cultivatable– the fertile north part of the island was traditionally able to sustain a remarkably varied variety of plants, including fruit (bananas, citrus fruit, peaches, pomegranates, figs), almonds, numerous veggies in addition to the staple plants of days as well as alfalfa. So possibly a totally vegan diet regimen was possible nevertheless.

Yet maybe unsurprisingly for a duration generally reduced as well as elided as unsavoury, info concerning the eating practices of the Carmathians remained slim on the ground. I began filtering with bigger timescale with a view to perplexing out the Carmathians’ consuming habits by filling in the blanks.

A visit to the Bahrain National Gallery was particularly useful in this regard.

Evaluation of dental diseases in archaeological remains recommends that from the Dilmun duration onwards, common fare contained days, fruits, veggies, meat, and also fish, with really little consumption of grains. From a later adjustment in oral diseases, nevertheless, it can be inferred that the advent of Islam accompanied a significant rise in grain– barley, millet as well as wheat– exports of which were especially lucrative for the Carmathians.

There is unfortunately little record– in English, that is– of eating routines up until the arrival of the British, however Ibn Magid, writing in the 15th century, does keep in mind that primary exports included grains, lemons, pomegranates, as well as date honey.

The production and consumption of the very nourishing day honey is something that the coastal gulf was specifically understood for. Madbasas, which are structures for accumulating the juice–‘honey’ of days have actually been discovered at the Bahrain fort site at both the Middle Dilmun (2000 BCE) and early Tylos (1st and also 2nd centuries CE) degrees. At this point, we can theorize that the Carmathian diet regimen consisted of a variety of fruits, veggies, and also cereals, yet their vegetarianism continues to be woefully unverified.

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