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Accueil du site → Doctorat → États-Unis → 1988 → The development of nomadism : The view from ancient northeast Africa

University of Pennsylvania (1988)

The development of nomadism : The view from ancient northeast Africa

Sadr, Karim

Titre : The development of nomadism : The view from ancient northeast Africa

Auteur : Sadr, Karim

Université de soutenance : University of Pennsylvania

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1988

The current anthropological literature contains several competing theories to explain the development of pastoral nomadism. The most popular is an ecological theory, stating that nomadism is an adaptation of marginal environments. Other theories include the military mobility one which maintains that nomadism is a defensive strategy employed by militarily inferior hinterland populations against expanding state societies. A third important theory states that nomadism is a response to the creation of state administered inter-regional markets : in this sense nomadism is thought to have arisen as an economic specialisation along with other specialised industries which accompanied the growth of complex societies. In this dissertation, the three theories are tested against archaeological data from Northeast Africa. First, nomadism is defined and differentiated from other forms of pastoralism. Second, methods are proposed for identifying the different types of pastoral adaptation in the archaeological record. Third, the archaeological sequence of events is compared to the sequences postulated by each of the three theories. The focus of the study is the Southern Atbai region of the east central Sudan. Here, in the easternmost Sahel, the archaeological record shows a transition from sedentary populations to nomadic pastoralists in the period from ca. 4000 BC to AD 500. Through the cross-correlation of settlement pattern analysis, faunal and artefactual studies, ancient historical records, and other data retrieved by two separate archaeological projects over the last eight years, it is concluded that nomadism in the Southern Atbai probably emerged as a response to opportunities provided by state administered markets. A review of the currently available archaeological and ancient historical data from Northeast Africa—specifically southern Egypt, northern Sudan and northern Ethiopia—suggests that the state market theory might also explain all other instances of nomadism in the region : the other two theories—the ecological and military mobility ones—can potentially explain only a few instances of nomadism.

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