The Meadows of Gold

Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems
The Meadows of Gold.jpg
Original titleمروج الذهب ومعادن الجوهر
TranslatorPaul Lunde, Caroline Stone and Aloys Sprenger
CountryMedieval Iraq, United Kingdom
LanguageArabic, Translations: English, French
PublisherLunde & Stone: Kegan Paul International
Publication date
L&S: 1989
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
909/.097671 20
LC ClassDS38.6 .M3813 1989

Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems (in Arabic: مروج الذهب ومعادن الجوهر‎, romanizedMuruj adh-dhahab wa ma'adin al-jawahir) is an historical account in Arabic of the beginning of the world starting with Adam and Eve up to and through the late Abbasid Caliphate by medieval Baghdadi historian Masudi (in Arabic المسعودي).

One English version is the abridged The Meadows of Gold: The Abbasids, translated and edited by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone.An 1841 translation of volume I, by Aloys Sprenger, also exists and is available at Princeton's Firestone Library.

A first version of the book was allegedly completed in the year 947 AD but the author spent most of his life adding and editing the work as well.[1]

The first European version of The Meadows of Gold was published in both French and Arabic between 1861 and 1877 by the Societe Asiatique of Paris by Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille. For over 100 years this version was the standard version used by Western scholars until Charles Pellat published a French revision between 1966 and 1974. This revision was published by the Universite Libanaise in Beirut and consisted of five volumes.[2]

Versions of the source text by Mas'udi have been published in Arabic for hundreds of years, mainly from presses operating in Egypt and Lebanon.

One English version was published in 1989 and was translated and edited by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone. According to this edition's introduction, their English translation is heavily edited and contains only a fragment of the original manuscript due to the editors' own personal research interests and focuses almost exclusively on the Abbasid history of Mas'udi. Their introduction also outlines how the editors relied mainly on the Pellat revision in French and are therefore mainly working from the French translation with the Arabic source text as a background guide.[3]

Another English version was published in 1841 by Aloys Sprenger, which includes a full translation of the first volume and extensive footnotes.

Historian Hugh N. Kennedy calls the book "Probably the best introduction to the Arabic historical tradition for the non-specialist."[4]

Place in Islamic historiography

Written in the "new style" of historical writing of al-Dinawari and al-Ya'qubi, Meadows of Gold is composed in a format that contains both historically documented facts, hadiths or sayings from reliable sources and stories, anecdotes, poetry and jokes that the author had heard or had read elsewhere. Due to its reliance on and references to Islam this style of history writing makes up an example of what constitutes Islamic historiography in general.[1]

Masudi also contributed an important role in this historicity by adding the importance of eye-witnessing a place or event in order to strengthen its veracity. Khalidi states that "Mas'udi's own observations form a valuable part of his work."[5] And that "In contrast to Tabari, who provides little or no information on the lands and peoples of his own day, Mas'udi often corroborated or rejected geographical and other data acquired second-hand."[5]

In addition the book is unique in medieval Islamic history for its interest in other cultures and religions as scientific and cultural curiosities. According to Lunde & Stone's introduction, this outlook is a major "characteristic that distinguishes Mas'udi from other Muslim historians."[6]