Relying on textual, ethnographic, and environmental scholarship on Yemen and the comparative insights of research into fisheries in the premodern Mediterranean world, the present study surveys the types of marine resources that appear across a wide range of literary and documentary sources pertaining to Yemen during the reign of the Rasūlids from the early 7th/13th to the mid-9th/15th century. Although Rasūlid-generated texts pay relatively scant attention to fishing, they clearly demonstrate the interest of the Rasūlid state in both the subsistence and commercial economy that fishermen procured. Moreover, when combined with the testimony of travelers and chroniclers and of iconography on a series of Rasūlid coins from the port city of Aden, these sources shed light on the inclusion of fish in Yemeni non-elite and elite diets, the place and roles of fisherfolk in Yemeni society, the maritime symbolism current in Rasūlid times, and ultimately the relationship between shores and inland centers of Rasūlid power. In aggregate this material suggests that the Rasūlid state maintained a symbiotic political and cultural relationship with fishing communities, which had direct access to and the primary role in harvesting and processing the resources in question, yet remain in the shadows of recorded history.
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