NOMADS
   Much of the land in and around Mesopotamia was unsuitable for agriculture due to the scarcity of waterways and insufficient rain but provided enough seasonal grass for transhumant herding. The most important animals for pastoralism were sheep and goats, whose growth period coincides with the renewal of vegetation in the winter months. The social structures of seminomadic or fully nomadic pastoralism developed to ensure maximum mobility for herds and people while maintaining internal cohesion. Little is known about these configurations in antiquity due to the fact that the settled population held nomads in contempt. It appears, however, from documents such as the Mari archives, that they were tribally organized, patrilinear, and patriarchal.
   The relations between the city dwellers in Mesopotamia and nomadic groups were generally described as problematic in the cuneiform documents, especially at times when waves of nomadic tribespushed into the rural districts, which were normally controlled by the state. Such forced occupations were met by military resistance or even the building of defensive walls, but neither proved effective. Nomadic immigrations into Mesopotamia came mainly from the west, the Arabian peninsula and southern Syria, and to a lesser degree from the Iranian plateau and the Caucasus mountains. The bestrecorded periods of tribal incursions were those of the Amorites in the late third millennium and those of the Arameans in the 12th and 11th centuries B.C.
   Such large-scale and violent incursions were not symptomatic of the relations between nomads and the settled in Mesopotamia. Mutually beneficial contacts were the norm; the nomads were allowed to graze their herds on the stubble after the harvests, thus loosening and fertilizing the soil; after planting, the animals could nibble off the first shoots and thus render the plants hardier, encouraging growth. The markets of the cities supplied the necessary articles such as weapons, tools, and jewelry for women. There was an ongoing process of gradual sedentarization for some tribal members, who would maintain social contact with their kin groups and relay new modes of thinking and living. Mesopotamian civilization was thus continuously enriched by the absorption of tribal people. Camelnomadism developed only in the first millennium, after the domestication of the camel.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • nomads — nomads, nomadism Terms used to refer to groups who move from place to place, without a year round permanent residence; bedouins are an example. Anthropologists have distinguished two broad types based on hunting gathering and pastoralism… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Nomads — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Nomads est un mot anglais signifiant « nomades ». Le terme peut désigner : Nomads, chapitre québécois des Hell s Angels, groupe de motards… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nomads — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel Nomads – Tod aus dem Nichts Originaltitel Nomads …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • nomads — People who for the most part exist on the move, taking sheep, cattle, and asses with them. None of the OT characters are nomads: the patriarchs led only a semi nomadic life since their wanderings were interrupted by periods at Shechem (Abraham,… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • nomads — ➡ Pre Columbian North America * * * …   Universalium

  • nomads — no·mad || nəʊmæd n. wanderer; member of a tribe that relocates seasonally in order to find better resources (e.g. pastureland, water, etc.) adj. wandering, nomadic …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Nomads United — Full name Nomads United Association Football Club Founded 1910 Ground Tulett League Pitch, Christchurch …   Wikipedia

  • Nomads (1986 film) — Nomads Directed by John McTiernan Produced by Thomas Coleman, Michael Rosenblatt, Cassian Elwes …   Wikipedia

  • Nomads (TV series) — Nomads Format Action Adventure Thriller Drama Created by Ken Sanzel Directed by Ken Sanzel Starring Scott Porter …   Wikipedia

  • Nomads of the North — Directed by David Hartford Produced by James Oliver Curwood Hal Roach …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”