Dr. Steven Sager
March 12, 2013
Bedouin of the Middle East
In this research paper I aim to give you a better knowledge of the Bedouin of the Middle East. We will examine and explore their history, beliefs and values, their kinship systems, the economy, and sociopolitical organization. At the end of this paper you should have a basic knowledge of who the Bedouin are, where they come from, and how they live.
The unit of subsistence for the Bedouin of the Middle East is best described as nomads. Pastoral nomads raise herds and depend on livestock. They also migrate from place to place hunting and gather food. (Emanuel Marx, June., 1977).
Bedouins are nomadic Arabs which inhabit deserts located in the Middle East and the northern parts of Africa. In the past, however, Bedouins only inhabited the deserts of the Middle East. After Muslims took over northern Africa in the 7th century, Bedouin territories expanded into these areas as well, especially Syria and Egypt. Even though Bedouins make only a minimal part of the population in these places, they take up a lot of space. In 1045, Bedouin nomads from Arabia began to migrate to northern Africa. However, as years went by, their rate of migration decreased. As they invaded the land, Bedouins took over grazing land and disturbed agricultural and urban civilization in these areas. In fact, they overgrazed and turned the land from pasture to desert. Today, even though some of the land has been restored, Middle Eastern and North African states try to move Bedouins from one country to another, so as to recuperate the destroyed land. Bedouins migrate depending on the season. In the summer, for example, they prefer to be near the city, since being in the desert at high temperatures during this season is made hard to find secure water source.(htttp://www.antiessays.com/free-essays/167586html.).
Agriculturalist and pastoralist have inhabited the land since 600 b.c. The Arab established a complex of oasis settlements and pastoral camps about 850 b.c. They were distinguished from their Assyrian neighbors to the north by their Arabic language, and by their use of domesticated camels for trade and warfare. The creation of a powerful Islamic state in western Arabia gave a dramatic Arab expansion. Thousands of Arab Muslims most of them Bedouin left the Arabian Peninsula to settle in their newly conquered land. Bedouin societies are always linked to other nonpastoral societies by economic, social, and political relations. Bedouin is a regional specialist in livestock breeding whose closes ties are with pastoral kinsmen. ( Chatty, Dawn: Young, William. 1996)
Bedouin societies are found in the regions of Arabia and North Africa along the margins of rain-fed cultivation. Bedouin living in these areas tend to migrate regularly. They move their livestock to areas where pasture is regularly found, they normally plant grain along their migration routes, and then they harvest them on their return to their winter camping areas. (Chatty, Dawn: Young, William. 1996)
Bedouin societies prefer portable shelters that allow them the flexibility that their pastoral nomadic way of life requires. Kin-related domestic units or households generally migrate together during the spring and summer months and tend to converge with other households of near kin during the winter months. In the past, Bedouin residence units were composed exclusively of tents. Depending upon the season of the year and, more specifically, the quality of surrounding pastureland, as few as three buyuut, and sometimes as many as fifteen, formed a camping unit. Among some Bedouin groups that spend the winter months in the same place year after year, stone houses (buyuut hajar ) are also common. In many cases, these winter encampments are only partially deserted during the spring and summer—the very young and the very old are left behind to benefit from government...