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Coffee & Smokes in Medieval Yemen

From the 9th to 17th centuries, the people of Zabid—a city at the south end of the Arabian Peninsula—enjoyed an upscale urban life. Inspired by the research of ROM archaeologist Ed Keall, Coffee & Smokes in Medieval Yemen offers a glimpse into the luxurious pastimes of life in medieval Zabid.

Explore an assortment of ceramic coffee cups and smokers’ pipes recovered from the Ottoman fort in Zabid, Yemen. Dated to the 16th century, these artifacts are finely made and indicate that the garrison indulged in their relaxations with items of elegance.

Since 1982, ROM archaeologist Ed Keall worked to evaluate the quality of life in medieval Zabid. He found that Ottoman soldiers in the 1500s to 1600s indulged in both coffee drinking and smoking—two habits new to the Middle East in that era.