Pastoralism in the Ancient Near East

Article Summary

Traditional approaches to the topic in the ancient Near East focus on mobile pastoralism, generally understanding it as something separate from, and secondary to, the agricultural practices of the sedentary world. The evidence in the Near East for large‐scale pastoral groups independent of polities centered in urban settlements is opaque, but the existence of tribes is assumed in both archaeological and Assyriological literature. While pastoralism remained a prime economic factor in the centuries subsequent to the Amorrite age, specific pastoralist entities were not prominent in ancient sources until towards the very end of the second millennium, when the Aramaeans first come to attention. The Aramean kingdoms that emerge in the first millennium are recognizable because they are called bit – Bit Adini or Bit Agusi. Kin‐based socio‐political organization is assumed by many to be synonymous with tribe.



  • D. Snell

Publication Type

Book Name

A Companion to the Ancient Near East