Esoteric Botanical Knowledge-scapes of Medieval Iberia
Esoteric texts containing botanical knowledge-scapes provide robust complementary data for paleoethnobotanical analyses. These data fill in the gaps for our interpretations of plant taxa that are often archaeologically invisible and provide more detail about the complex relationships between the people of the past and archaeologically visible plant remains. These texts also contain information that cannot be accessed through archaeology alone, such as the ‘qualities’ of plants that are determined by celestial bodies within the ‘great chain of being’ (among other factors). Lastly, such texts provide details on the sources and distribution of plants across the Medieval world (e.g. geographic indicators). Using the Picatrix, the Latin translation of an earlier Arabic esoteric text, the Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm, it is argued that esoteric texts have multiple applications for archaeological investigations that use paleoethnobotanical analyses.