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Recent publications of papyri & ostraca 4th BC-8th AD; conferences, lectures etc. from Papy-L and other sources as noted. PLEASE SEND SUGGESTIONS

Sunday, January 13, 2008

CONFERENCE: Nomads, Tribes, and the State in the Ancient Near East: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives

Nomads, Tribes, and the State in the Ancient Near East: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives
Organized by Jeffrey Szuchman
The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
1155 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
March 7–8, 2008

A Bedouin encampment (large tent of the sheikh and smaller ones of the clan). Taken either by the American Colony Photo Department or its successor the Matson Photo Service (between 1898 and 1946). Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-matpc-05979
Conference Abstract and Participants

What was the relationship between pastoral nomadic tribes and sedentary peoples in the ancient Near East? After decades of research, scholars are more aware than ever of the challenges posed by this deceptively simple question. Textual biases, poor archaeological visibility of nomadic remains, and tenuous ethnographic parallels all pose obstacles to reconstructing the complex dynamics of tribe-state interactions in antiquity. This conference brings together a diverse group of archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists to explore new ways of approaching the study of nomadic populations and encounters between tribes and states. Although great strides have recently been made in the study of these issues, new approaches have called into question the very categories we use to describe tribe-state interactions. Furthermore, archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians have been addressing these issues in relative isolation. This conference thus offers a unique opportunity to set an agenda for the study of ancient Near Eastern nomadism from a cross-disciplinary perspective. The first steps will be to assess the current state of research on ancient pastoral nomadism, tribes and the state, and to reach a consensus about the use and misuse of data and terminology. Once a common framework is established, we can begin to address new theoretical and methodological approaches to the lingering questions of tribe-state interactions. A central aim of the conference is to equip attendees to apply the diverse techniques of various fields and various regions of the Near East to their own work. The two-day conference is organized with those goals in mind. The emphasis of the conference will be as much on discussion and debate as on the presentations themselves. Papers will be circulated among participants in advance of the conference and there will be ample opportunity for response and discussion. Publication of the proceedings of this conference is made possible through the generous support of the Arthur and Lee Herbst Research Fund.

One paper is notable for our time period:

Hans Barnard (Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA)
The Archaeology of Pastoral Nomadism in Roman Egypt

A recent study of Eastern Desert Ware, which included chemical analysis of the ceramic matrix and the organic residues in the vessels, as well as ethnography and experimental archaeology, indicated that Eastern Desert Ware was probably made and used by a group of pastoral nomads, but did not provide any evidence towards their identification or association with any specific group mentioned in the textual sources. This is partly due to the emphasis on the Pharaonic and Greco-Roman remains in the desert areas, where little research has been done on the ephemeral campsites of the pastoral nomads living in the same region. The archaeological study of the latter requires a specialized approach, combining the study of ephemeral campsites and low-density surface scatters with data on the environment, the available resources and the routes of the nomads. This methodology will be very similar for the study of pastoral nomads, mobile groups of hunter-gatherers or sections of a settled population that have temporarily been displaced. Specialists in these fields should work together to come to an archaeology of mobility to increase our understanding of people on the move.