Abū Muhammad al-Hasan al-Hamdānī

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Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan ibn Aḥmad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Hamdānī (279/280-333/334 A.H/ 893-945 A.D) Arabic: أبو محمد الحسن بن أحمد بن يعقوب الهمداني‎) was an Arab Muslim geographer, poet, grammarian, historian, and astronomer, from the tribe of Banu Hamadan, western 'Amran/Yemen. He was one of the best representatives of Islamic culture during the last effective years of the Abbasid caliphate.


The biographic data of al-Hamdānī is hardly well-known, despite his extensive scientific work. He was held in repute as a grammarian, wrote much poetry, compiled astronomical tables, devoted most of his life to the study of the ancient history and geography of Arabia.

Before he was born his family lived in al-Marashi (المراشي). Then they moved to Sanaa' (صنعاء) and settled down there. Thus, he was born there, year 893. His father was a voyager and had been to Kufa, Baghdad, Basra, Oman and Egypt. At around the age of seven, he started to talk himself into voyaging. He had left to Makkah and stayed there for more than six years and studied there. Then he left to Sa'dah (صعدة) and stayed there. Over there he gathered news on Khawlaan (خولان). Later, he went back to San'a and gathered news on Himyar (حمْير). Although, his bold thoughts and his opposition to the politics lead him to prison, he stayed there for about two years. When he got out of prison, he left to Rayda (ريدة) to be in the protection of his tribe, he compiled most of his books there and stayed there until he died, year 945.

His Geography of the Arabian Peninsula (Sifat Jazirat ul-Arab) is by far the most important work on the subject. After being used in manuscript by A. Sprenger in his Post- und Reiserouten des Orients (Leipzig, 1864) and further in his Alte Geographie Arabiens (Bern, 1875), it was edited by D.H. Müller (Leiden, 1884; cf. Sprenger's criticism in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, vol. 45, pp. 361–394).

Much has also been written on this work by E. Glaser in his various publications on ancient Arabia. The other great work of al-Hamdānī is the Iklil (Crown) concerning the genealogies of the Himyarites and the wars of their kings in ten volumes. Of this, part 8, on the citadels and castles of south Arabia, has been edited and annotated by Müller in Die Burgen und Schlösser Sudarabiens (Vienna, 1881).

For other works said to have been written by al-Hamdānī see G. L. Flügel's Die grammatischen Schulen der Araber (Leipzig, 1862), pp. 220–221.



  1. ^ Kitāb al-Jawharatayn al-ʻatīqatayn al-māʼiʻatayn min al-ṣafrāʼ wa-al-bayḍāʼ : al-dhahab wa-al-fiḍḍah. Cairo : Maṭbaʻat Dār al-Kutub wa-al-Wathāʼiq al-Qawmīyah bi-al-Qāhirah (Arabic:كتاب الجوهرتين العتيقتين المائعتين من الصفراء والبيضاء : الذهب والفضة), 2004. pp. 43–44,87. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 


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