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Bees in the medieval Maghreb: Wax, honey and cross-cultural trade in the Western Mediterranean

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-455
JournalMedieval Encounters
Volume27
Issue number4-5
DOIs
Accepted/In press8 Oct 2021
Published22 Dec 2021

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Abstract

Believed to originate in Paradise and set apart in their chastity, bees were potent religious symbols in medieval Christianity and Islam. This article explores how these beliefs drove an extensive trade in wax and honey, and examines the role of Jews, conversos, Christians, and Muslims in this trade. Further, it considers the environmental context and the extent to which religious prohibitions against trade between Christians and Muslims may have provided economic opportunities for Jewish merchants, while examining the economic and cultural relationships between members of the three Abrahamic religions.

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