Stargazing in traditional water management: a case study in northern Oman
University of Exeter
Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies
This paper presents some of the results of the author's first year of doctoral research. Despite the availability of watches, stars are still used in some villages in northern Oman to time the allocation of water for irrigation by an age-old method of tapping groundwater by gravity flow. It appears that the use of stars survives mainly in smaller settlements still dependent on agriculture for livelihoods, where light pollution is less severe than in the towns, and where the community adheres to traditional practices. Many of the stars have different names to those given in the literature on Arabic stars, and the stars used for timing water vary somewhat from one village to another. The method of stargazing also varies among villages: in some the stars are watched rising above the horizon and in others the time is known by the rising or setting of the star above or below a man-made marker, or on its reaching the zenith. A number of stars are identified by their international classification, possibly for the first time.
37 (2007): 157–170