Abu Muhammad al-?asan ibn A?mad ibn Yaqub al-Hamdani (279/280-333/334 A.H. / 893-945 A.D; Arabic: ? ? ) was an ArabMuslim geographer, chemist, poet, grammarian, historian, and astronomer, from the tribe of Banu Hamdan, western 'Amran, Yemen. He was one of the best representatives of Islamic culture during the last period of the Abbasid Caliphate. His work was the subject of extensive 19th-century Austrian scholarship.
The biographical details of al-Hamdani's life are scant, despite his extensive scientific work. He was held in high repute as a grammarian, wrote much poetry, compiled astronomical tables and is said to have devoted most of his life to the study of the ancient history and geography of Arabia.
Before he was born his family had lived in al-Marashi (?). Then they moved to Sana'a (), where al-Hamdani was born in the year 893. His father had been a traveller and had visited Kufa, Baghdad, Basra, Oman and Egypt. At around the age of seven, al-Marashi started to talk about his desire to travel. Somewhat later he left for Mecca, where he remained and studied for more than six years, after which he departed for Sa'dah (?). There he gathered information on Khawlaan (). Later, he went back to Sanaa and became interested in the land that was Himyar (), but was imprisoned for two years due to his political views. After his release from prison, he went to Raydah (?) to live under the protection of his own tribe. He compiled most of his books while there and stayed on until his death in 945.
His Geography of the Arabian Peninsula (Sifat Jazirat ul-Arab) is by far the most important work on the subject. The manuscript was used by Austrian orientalist, Aloys Sprenger in his Post- und Reiserouten des Orients (Leipzig, 1864) and further in his Alte Geographie Arabiens (Bern, 1875), and was edited by D.H. Müller (Leiden, 1884; cf. Sprenger's criticism in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, vol. 45, pp. 361-394).
His work has been the subject of extensive research and publications by the Austrian Arabist, Eduard Glaser, a specialist on ancient Arabia. The other great work of al-Hamd?n? is his ten volume, Iklil (the Diadem), concerning the genealogies of the Himyarites and the wars waged by their kings. Volume 8, on the citadels and castles of southern Arabia, has been translated into German, edited and annotated by D.H.Müller as Die Burgen und Schlösser Sudarabiens (Vienna, 1881).
Other works said to have been written by al-Hamdani are listed in G. L. Flügel's Die grammatischen Schulen der Araber (Leipzig, 1862), pp. 220-221.
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