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Ingrid Hehmeyer

Ingrid Hehmeyer

EducationMSc (equiv.) in Pharmacy, University of Bonn. Dipl-Ing agr, University of Bonn. DAgrSc, University of Bonn.
OfficeJOR 519
Phone416-979-5000 Ext. 556141
Areas of ExpertiseHistory of Science and Technology: Water Engineering and Management; Astronomy; Medical Sciences; Magic

Dr. Ingrid Hehmeyer, Professor in the History of Science and Technology, is an agricultural engineer who specializes in human-environmental relationships in the arid regions of ancient and medieval Arabia. Her current research focusses on the history of water technology in medieval Yemen, where she investigates technical innovations in hydraulic engineering and strategies for water management that allowed people to live under harsh environmental conditions. Part of this project involves a study of the methods of astronomical timekeeping used for allocating water, during both day and night. Her second area of research is the history of the medical sciences in the Islamic world. As a licensed pharmacist, she is particularly interested in the use of medicinal substances and their manufacture. The perpetual menace of disease on the one hand, and of water scarcity on the other – the two most fundamental threats to the basis of life – led people to resort to magical measures in the hopes that these might change the course of events. Tangible evidence for this exists in the form of magic-medicinal bowls, talismans and magical symbols, which form a major theme in her research.

Selected Publications:


The challenge of interpreting archaeological remains in the light of written sources: A discussion based on the work of the Canadian Archaeological Mission in Zabid, Yemen. Pages 151-166 in: M. Milwright & E. Baboula (eds.), Made for the Eye of One Who Sees: Canadian Contributions to the Study of Islamic Art and Archaeology. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.


Lokale Kompetenz oder Techniktransfer? Die unterirdischen Kanalsysteme von Ghayl Ba Wazir, Jemen [Local competence or technology transfer? The underground canal systems of Ghayl Ba Wazir, Yemen]. Schriftenreihe der Frontinus-Gesellschaft 33: 183-209.


A History of Water Engineering and Management in Yemen: Material Remains and Textual Foundations (Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 1: The Near and Middle East 129). Leiden: Brill.


Majil and birka: Cisterns in the western highlands of Yemen. Pages 156-163 in: T.H.J. Marchand (ed.), Architectural Heritage of Yemen: Buildings that Fill My Eye. London: Gingko.


The ‘Iranian syndrome’ revisited: The question of technology transfer or local development in hydraulic engineering. Pages 103-114 in: W.Y. Al Tikriti & P.A. Yule (eds.), Proceedings of Water & Life in Arabia Conference 14th-16th December, 2014. Abu Dhabi: Tourism and Culture Authority.


The configuration of the heavens in Islamic astronomy. Pages 1083-1098 in: S. Günther & B.T. Lawson (eds.), Roads to Paradise: Eschatology and Concepts of the Hereafter in Islam (Islamic History and Civilization, 136). Leiden: Brill.


Medicinal plants and their uses in classical Arabic medicine: An example from Book II of Ibn Sina’s Kitab al-Qanun fi al-tibb. Pages 41-58 in: Ş. Güldütüna & D. Quintern (eds.), Ibn Sina’s Qanun fi al-tibb (Gülhane Studies, 1).  Istanbul: Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam.


Water engineering and management practices in South Arabia: Aspects of continuity and change from ancient to medieval and modern times. Pages 43-54 in: A. Gingrich & S. Haas (eds.), South Arabia across History: Essays to the Memory of Walter Dostal. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.


Denker und Tüftler: Wissenschaft und Technik in klassisch-islamischer Zeit. Pages 321-355 in: P. Gemeinhardt & S. Günther (eds.), Von Rom nach Bagdad. Bildung und Religion von der römischen Kaiserzeit bis zum klassischen Islam. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.


I. Hehmeyer & H. Schönig (eds.), Herbal Medicine in Yemen: Traditional Knowledge and Practice, and Their Value for Today’s World (Islamic History and Civilization 96). Leiden: Brill. 

The validity of traditional medicine as an effective tool in issues of human health. Pages 7-20 in: I. Hehmeyer & H. Schönig (eds.), Herbal Medicine in Yemen: Traditional Knowledge and Practice, and Their Value for Today’s World (Islamic History and Civilization 96). Leiden: Brill.

Selected Presentations:

Sept. 2022

The hammam in the pre-modern Muslim city: Ancient legacies, new social customs – Bathing Culture in Budapest: International Conference of the Frontinus-Society on the History of Water Management and Hydraulic Engineering, Budapest, Hungary.

June 2022

Sharing water during medieval times: The underground canal systems of Ghayl Ba Wazir, Yemen – Aqueducts, Canals, Qanats: Construction and Management of Water Conduits in the Late Antique and Medieval Mediterranean and Middle East, Radboud University, Nijmegen.

Dec. 2021

Mathematics and its applications: An example from Rasulid Zabid, Yemen – Middle East Studies Association, 55th Annual Meeting (online).

Sept. 2021

Lokale Kompetenz oder Techniktransfer? Die unterirdischen Kanalsysteme im Jemen [Local competence or technology transfer? The underground canal systems of Yemen] – Frontinus-Gesellschaft: Internationale Gesellschaft für die Geschichte der Wasser-, Energie- und Rohrleitungstechnik [Frontinus Society: International Society for the History of Water, Energy and Piping Technology] (online).

May 2021

Wasserbau und Wassermanagement im Jemen: Fallbeispiele aus Antike und Mittelalter [Water engineering and management in Yemen: Case studies from antiquity and the Middle Ages] –Deutsche Wasserhistorische Gesellschaft [German Society for Water History] (online).

May 2021

Water and urban life in medieval Zabid, Yemen: Archaeological remains, textual foundations and religious implications– Source of Life Project team, Institute for Culture and History, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands (online workshop).

Oct. 2019

The transmission of knowledge: Examples from classical Arabic medicine – Department of History, University of Western Ontario.

Oct. 2019

Why is the history of water engineering and management important? The example of Zabid, Yemen, and its irrigated farmland – Institute for Islamic Studies, University of Toronto.

Sept. 2019

Customary versus Islamic law: Sharing water in Yemen from the 14th to the 18th century – Contesting Water Management and Water Rights between 600 and the 19th Century, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany.

June 2019 

The madrasa and the natural sciences: Some practical aspects as observed in medieval Zabid, Yemen – 1st International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium for the History of Science in Islam, Istanbul University, Turkey [i]

Current Courses:

HST 325 - History of Science and Technology I 
HST 425 - History of Science and Technology II 
HST 777 - Medicine from Antiquity to 1500 CE
HST 786 - Science and Technology in Islamic History
HST 787 - Astronomy versus Astrology 
HST 788 - Water Use in History

Professional Affiliations:

  • German Institute of Archaeology
  • Deutsch-Jemenitische Gesellschaft
  • Middle East Studies Association
  • International Water History Association
  • Deutsche Wasserhistorische Gesellschaft
  • Frontinus Society
  • Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants

Conference Organization:

May 2016
image file3rd Congress on History of Medicine. Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakif University, Istanbul (co-organizer), opens in new window

May 2014                   
image fileSixth Annual GTA Symposium on Critical Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine. Ryerson University (co-organizer), opens in new window

July 2012
PDF fileMagie im Islam: Zwischen Glaube und Wissenschaft. Geroge-August Universitat, Göttingen, opens in new window