Water Management: The Use of Stars in Oman

Harriet Nash
Society for Arabian Studies Monographs


The study presents fast disappearing information on the ethnography of agricultural communities in northern Oman and especially on the use of stars. It aims to identify the stars used and record the methods of stargazing in sufficient detail that the systems could be replicated if all local knowledge were lost. It also aims to raise awareness and improve the understanding of the significance of the traditional use of the stars in irrigated agriculture. This aspect of the cultural heritage of the region has not been written about previously in such detail. The main reason for the continued use of stars by a few communities, even though wristwatches are now widely available, is thought to be adherence to tradition both for its own sake and to avoid disputes over the sharing of water. It is considered unlikely that this ancient practice will survive more than 10 or 20 years unless the younger generation takes an interest in learning, and putting into practice, the traditions of their forefathers.