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File:Nomads near Namtso.jpg
File:Nomad camp above Tsurphu Gompa.JPG

Nomadic people (Greek: νομάδες

, nomádes, "those who let pasture herds") are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world.[2] Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but traditional nomadic behavior is increasingly rare in industrialized countries. Nomadic cultures are discussed in three categories according to economic specialization: hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, and "peripatetic nomads".

Nomadic hunting and gathering, following seasonally available wild plants and game, is by far the oldest human subsistence method.

Pastoralists raise herds, driving them or moving with them, in patterns that normally avoid depleting pastures beyond their ability to recover.

Peripatetic nomads, who offer the skills of a craft or trade to those they travel among, are most common in industrialized nations.

Nomadic hunter-gatherers Edit

Main article: Hunter-gatherer

Many groups of 'nomadic' hunter-gatherers (also known as foragers) moved from campsite to campsite, following game and wild fruits and vegetables. Known examples include:

  • Various groups of Pygmies, such as the Mbuti of the Ituri Rain forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • The Bushmen of Southern Africa
  • Most Indigenous Australians prior to Western contact
  • Some Adivasi tribal people of India
  • Many Native Americans, such as the Nukak-Makú, Comanches and many other Plains Indians, the Yahi of California, indigenous inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego, or early people of Montana located at Barton Gulch

Pastoral nomads Edit

File:Ghilzai nomads in Afghanistan.jpg
File:Gurvger.jpg
Saami Family 1900

A Sami (Lapp) family in Norway around 1900. Reindeer have been herded for centuries by several Arctic and Subarctic people including the Sami and the Nenets.[3]

Main article: Pastoralism
See also nomadic pastoralism

Pastoral nomads are nomads moving between pastures. Nomadic pastoralism is thought to have developed in three stages that accompanied population growth and an increase in the complexity of social organization. Karim Sadr has proposed the following stages:

  • Pastoralism: This is a mixed economy with a symbiosis within the family.
  • Agropastoralism: This is when symbiosis is between segments or clans within an ethnic group.
  • True Nomadism: This is when symbiosis is at the regional level, generally between specialized nomadic and agricultural populations.

The pastoralists are sedentary to a certain area, as they move between the permanent spring, summer, autumn and winter (or dry and wet season) pastures for their livestock. The nomads moved depending on the availability of resources.[4]

Origin of nomadic pastoralism Edit

Nomadic pastoralism seems to have developed as a part of the secondary products revolution proposed by Andrew Sherratt, in which early pre-pottery Neolithic cultures that had used animals as live meat ("on the hoof") also began using animals for their secondary products, for example, milk and its associated dairy products, wool and other animal hair, hides and consequently leather, [manure for fuel and fertilizer, and traction.

The first nomadic pastoral society developed in the period from 8500-6500 BC in the area of the southern Levant. There, during a period of increasing aridity, ppnb, which seems to have been a cultural fusion between a newly arrived Mesolithic people from Egypt (the Harifian culture), adopting their nomadic hunting lifestyle to the raising of stock. This lifestyle quickly developed into what Jaris Yurins has called the circum-Arabian nomadic pastoral techno-complex and is possibly associated with the appearance of Semitic languages in the region of the Ancient Near East. The rapid spread of such nomadic pastoralism was typical of such later developments as of the Yamnaya culture of the horse and cattle nomads of the Eurasian steppe, or of the Turko-Mongol spread of the later Middle Ages.[5]

Increased nomadism in the former Soviet UnionEdit

One of the results of the break-up of the Soviet Union and the subsequent political independence and economic collapse of its Central Asian republics is the resurgence of pastoral nomadism.[6] Taking the Kyrgyz people as a representative example nomadism was the center of their economy prior to Russian colonization at the turn of the C19/C20, when they were settled into agricultural villages. The population became increasingly urbanized after World War II, but some people continued to take their herds of horses and cows to the high pasture (jailoo) every summer, i.e. a pattern of transhumance. Since the 1990s, as the cash economy shrunk, unemployed relatives were absorbed back on the family farm, and the importance of this form of nomadism has increased. The symbols of nomadism, specifically the crown of the grey felt tent known as the yurt, appears on the national flag, emphasizing the centrality of their nomadic history and past in the creation of the modern nation of Kyrgyzstan.

SedentarizationEdit

By 1920, nomadic pastoral tribes represented over a quarter of Iran's population.[7] Tribal pastures were nationalized during the 1960s. The National Commission of UNESCO registered the population of Iran at 21 million in 1963, of whom two million (9.5%) were nomads.[8] Although the nomadic population of Iran has dramatically decreased in the 20th century, Iran still has one of the largest nomadic populations in the world, an estimated 1.5 million in a country of about 70 million.[9]

File:Prokudin-Gorskii-18.jpg

In Kazakhstan where the major agricultural activity was nomadic herding,[10] forced collectivization under Stalin’s rule met with massive resistance and major losses and confiscation of livestock.[11] Livestock in Kazakhstan fell from 7 million cattle to 1.6 million and from 22 million sheep to 1.7 million. The resulting Soviet famine of 1932-1933|famine of 1931-1934]] caused some 1.5 million deaths: this represents more than 40% of the total Kazakh population at that time.[12]

In the 1950s as well as the 1960s, large numbers of Bedouin throughout the Middle East started to leave the traditional, nomadic life to settle in the cities of the Middle East, especially as home ranges have shrunk and population levels have grown. Government policies in Egypt and Israel, oil production in Libya and the Persian Gulf, as well as a desire for improved standards of living, effectively led most Bedouin to become settled citizens of various nations, rather than stateless nomadic herders. A century ago nomadic Bedouin still made up some 10% of the total Arab population. Today they account for some 1% of the total.[13]

At independence in 1960, Mauritania was essentially a nomadic society. The great Sahel droughts of the early 1970s caused massive problems in a country where 85% of its inhabitants were nomadic herders. Today only 15% remain nomads.[14]

As many as 2 million nomadic Kuchis wandered over Afghanistan in the years before the Soviet invasion, and most experts agreed that by 2000 the number had fallen dramatically, perhaps by half. The severe drought had destroyed 80% of the livestock in some areas.[15]

Niger experienced a serious food crisis in 2005 following erratic rainfall and desert locust invasions. Nomads such as the Tuareg and Fulani, who make up about 20% of Niger's 12.9 million population, had been so badly hit by the Niger food crisis that their already fragile way of life is at risk.[16] Nomads in Mali were also affected.[17]



See also Edit

References Edit

Further reading Edit

External linksEdit

  • African Pygmies Nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples in the Central African rainforest
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