Pastoralism means the herding of animals — mainly sheep, goats and cattle but in some places yaks, llamas and camels. It often implies a nomadic or semi-nomadic way of life, with groups following their herds from pasturage to pasturage to ensure that there is enough grassland for their animals. Because the heartlands of civilization have almost always lain in fertile areas which can support large, dense populations, pastoralists have often appeared to be on the margins of history.
Early farming communities had to learn how to make best use of the land which they occupied. For some this meant focussing more on crops than animals; for others, in less fertile landscapes, it meant focussing more on raising livestock.
In the grasslands and highlands of Eurasia, the dry climate and poorer soil made it hard to make a living from growing crops. In these regions, small groups developed a lifestyle based on keeping flocks and herds of animals.
These groups became the first pastoralists. Animals, particularly sheep and cattle, require large amounts of grazing land to feed on, and need to be regularly moved from place to place to find fresh pastures. A pastoral economy therefore demands much more land than one based on crop-growing, and supports a smaller population.
Most pastoral societies, therefore, consist of small groups which tend to follow a nomadic or semi-nomadic way of life. In many cases, there is an annual cycle of grazing the herds in cooler, mountain pastures during the summer and bringing them down to warmer grasslands in winter a practice known as transhumance.
Pastoralism probably originated in early Neolithic times, when, in areas not suited to arable farming, some hunter-gatherer groups took to supplementing their traditional way of life with keeping domesticated cattle, sheep and goats. Pastoralism has always been important in the Middle Eastmuch of which, being very dry, is unsuitable for arable farming. The archaeological record suggests the presence of pastoralists in Palestine as early as BCE. The rise of irrigation farming and, later, urban civilization, in the great river valleys of Mesopotamia would have given pastoralism an extra boost.
The dense populations that now arose in the great river valleys progressively shifted to intensive crops growing in order to feed themselves. Animal husbandry would have become less important to them, as it took up a lot of land which could be more efficiently used for crops. The people of the river valleys still needed animal products, however, and for these they relied increasingly on the animal herders.
These lived on the less fertile grasslands on the margins of the irrigated areas. This exchange allowed the animal herders to specialise more on their pastoral activities. Pastoral tribes became an important element in the ancient Middle East. Most of the time, relations between city-dwellers and farmers, on the one hand, and pastoralists on the other, were probably reasonably harmonious.
It is likely that animosity was never far way, however.Ecouteur filaire apple lightning
The differences in lifestyles bred mutual suspicion and contempt. At regular intervals open hostilities broke out between them. In these the nomads, despite their fewer numbers, had a military edge because of their mobility. Coalitions of nomadic groups could quickly bring concentrated force to bear on certain points, and as quickly disperse.
Farmers would have found this harder to deal with, tied as they were to their own plots of land. Also, the nomadic lifestyle was a hard one, and competition between nomadic groups for scarce resources made low-level warfare endemic between them: they were inured to warfare in a way that farmers were not.
This too would have given them an advantage when it came to fighting. As a result, Middle Eastern history was characterised by frequent nomadic raids, migrations and outright conquests. Sometime before BCE some pastoralists succeeded in domesticating camels. The Bedouin way of life, in which small bands of nomads based on scattered oases in the deep desert, became possible. In the Middle East, the pastoralists mostly belonged to the Semitic races though not all Semites were pastoralists — witness the Canaanites.
The first to make a major impact on history were the Akkadians, then the Amorites, the Hebrews, the Aramaeans, the Chaldeans, and later the Arabs. Other non-Semitic pastoralists who made an impact on the ancient Middle East were the ancestors of the Hittites, the Mitanni who ruled Syria and northern Mesopotamia c.
All these groups originated on the steppes of central Asia. The great expanses of grassland in central Asia were well suited to a pastoral economy. They came to depend more on their animals, every part of which was exploited: wool and skins for clothes and tents; milk, meat and blood for sustenance; bone and horn for weapons and implements.Nomadic pastoralism is a form of pastoralism when livestock are herded in order to find fresh pastures on which to graze.
True nomads follow an irregular pattern of movement, in contrast with transhumance where seasonal pastures are fixed. The herded livestock include cowsbuffalosyaksllamassheepgoatsreindeerhorsesdonkeys or camelsor mixtures of species. Nomadic pastoralism is commonly practised in regions with little arable landtypically in the developing worldespecially in the steppe lands north of the agricultural zone of Eurasia. Increasing numbers of stock may lead to overgrazing of the area and desertification if lands are not allowed to fully recover between one grazing period and the next.
Increased enclosure and fencing of land has reduced the amount of land for this practice. There is substantive uncertainty over the extent to which the various causes for degradation affect grassland. Different causes have been identified which include overgrazing, mining, agricultural reclamation, pests and rodents, soil properties, tectonic activity, and climate change.
In this context, there is also uncertainty as to the long term effect of human behavior on the grassland as compared to non-biotic factors. Nomadic pastoralism was a result of the Neolithic revolution and the rise of agriculture.
During that revolution, humans began domesticating animals and plants for food and started forming cities. Nomadism generally has existed in symbiosis with such settled cultures trading animal products meat, hides, wool, cheese and other animal products for manufactured items not produced by the nomadic herders.
Henri Fleisch tentatively suggested the Shepherd Neolithic industry of Lebanon may date to the Epipaleolithic and that it may have been used by one of the first cultures of nomadic shepherds in the Beqaa valley. In the past it was asserted that pastoral nomads left no presence archaeologically or were impoverished, but this has now been challenged,  and was clearly not so for many ancient Eurasian nomadswho have left very rich kurgan burial sites.
Pastoral nomadic sites are identified based on their location outside the zone of agriculture, the absence of grains or grain-processing equipment, limited and characteristic architecture, a predominance of sheep and goat bones, and by ethnographic analogy to modern pastoral nomadic peoples  Juris Zarins has proposed that pastoral nomadism began as a cultural lifestyle in the wake of the BC climatic crisis when Harifian pottery making hunter-gatherers in the Sinai fused with Pre-Pottery Neolithic B agriculturalists to produce the Munhata  culture, a nomadic lifestyle based on animal domesticationdeveloping into the Yarmoukian  and thence into a circum-Arabian nomadic pastoral complex, and spreading Proto-Semitic languages.
In Bronze Age Central Asia, nomadic populations are associated with the earliest transmissions of millet and wheat grains through the region that eventually became central for the Silk Road. Often traditional nomadic groups settle into a regular seasonal pattern of transhumance. An example of a normal nomadic cycle in the northern hemisphere is:. Camps are established in the same place each year; often semi-permanent shelters are built in at least one place on this migration route.
David Christian made the following observations about pastoralism. Since animals are higher on the food chain, pastoralism supports a thinner population than agriculture.
Pastoralism predominates where low rainfall makes farming impractical. Full pastoralism required the Secondary products revolution when animals began to be used for wool, milk, riding and traction as well as meat.
Where grass is poor herds must be moved, which leads to nomadism. Some peoples are fully nomadic while others live in sheltered winter camps and lead their herds into the steppe in summer. Some nomads travel long distances, usually north in summer and south in winter. Near mountains, herds are led uphill in summer and downhill in winter transhumance. Pastoralists often trade with or raid their agrarian neighbors.
High civilization is based on agriculture where tax-paying peasants support landed aristocrats, kings, cities, literacy and scholars. Pastoral societies are less developed and as a result, according to Christian, more egalitarian. The heartland of pastoralism is the Eurasian steppe. In the center of Eurasia pastoralism extended south to Iran and surrounded agrarian oasis cities. When pastoral and agrarian societies went to war, horse-borne mobility counterbalanced greater numbers.
Attempts by agrarian civilizations to conquer the steppe usually failed until the last few centuries. Pastoralists frequently raided and sometimes collected regular tribute from their farming neighbors. Nomadic pastoralism was historically widespread throughout less fertile regions of Earth. It is found in areas of low rainfall such as the Arabian Peninsula inhabited by Bedouinsas well as Northeast Africa inhabited by Somalis where camel, cattle, sheep and goat nomadic pastoralism is especially common.
There are an estimated 30—40 million nomads in the world. The Mongols in what is now MongoliaRussia and China, and the Tatars or Turkic people of Eastern Europe and Central Asia were nomadic people who practiced nomadic transhumance on harsh Asian steppes.Nomadic pastoralists live in societies in which the husbandry of grazing animals is viewed as an ideal way of making a living and the regular movement of all or part of the society is considered a normal and natural part of life.
Pastoral nomadism is commonly found where climatic conditions produce seasonal pastures but cannot support sustained agriculture.
This article discusses nomads and the sedentary world; levels of social and political complexity among nomads; nomadic empires and china; long-distance trade; nomadic dynasties; and the decline of nomads in history.
Keywords: pastoral nomadismnomadic organizationnomadic empireChinalong-distance tradehusbandry.
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Delete Cancel Save. Cancel Save.Pastoralism refers to a stage in the development of civilization between hunting and agriculture and also to a way of life dependent on the herding of livestock, specifically, ungulates. The Steppes and the Near and Middle East are particularly associated with pastoralism, although mountainous regions and areas too cold for farming can also support pastoralism.
In the Steppes near Kiev, where the wild horse roamed, pastoralists used their knowledge of cattle herding to domesticate the horse. Pastoralists focus on raising livestock and tend to the care and use of animals such as camels, goatscattle, yaks, llamas and sheep. Animal species vary depending on where pastoralists live in the world; typically they are domesticated herbivores that eat plant foods.
The two main lifestyles of pastoralism include nomadism and transhumance. The nomads practice a seasonal migratory pattern that changes annually, while transhumance pastoralists use a pattern to cool highland valleys in summer and warmer ones during the cold wintertime.
This form of subsistence agriculture, also known as farming to eat, is based on herding domesticated animals. Instead of depending on crops to survive, pastoral nomads primarily depend on animals that provide milk, clothing and tents.
Some key characteristics of pastoral nomads include:. The movement of livestock for water and food encompasses transhumance. The core differentiator in regards to nomadism is that herders who are leading the flock must leave their family behind. Their lifestyle is in harmony with nature, developing groups of people with the world's ecosystem, embedding themselves in their environment and biodiversity. The main places you can find transhumance include Mediterranean locations such as Greece, Lebanon, and Turkey.
Pastoral societies include groups of pastoralists who center their daily life around pastoralism through the tending of herds or flocks. The benefits of pastoralism include flexibility, low costs and freedom of movement. Pastoralism has survived due to additional features including light regulatory environment and their work in regions that are not suited for agriculture. Brian M.
Fagan, ed. Oxford University Press. Share Flipboard Email. Ancient History and Latin Expert. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. Updated April 10, Cite this Article Format. Gill, N. Understanding the Role of Pastoralism in Civilization.Pastoralism is the ancient method of subsistence farming that substantially relies on the raising and tending of domestic animals. Pastoralism takes place or has taken place in most parts of the world, in climates that range from arid desert to arctic tundra and from forested lowlands to mountain pastures.
The ways that pastoralists tend their flocks, then, vary widely depending on farmer flexibility, as well as the regional geographic, ecological, and social conditions.
So, to a scientific researcher, pastoralism in its most basic meaning is simply stock keeping. But the study of pastoralists includes the effects stock keeping has on the societies, economies, and lifeways of the groups that keep stock and attach high cultural importance to the animals themselves.The MONGOL Empire [AP World History Review] Unit 2 Topic 2
Archaeological studies show that the earliest domesticated stock animals— sheepgoatsand pigs —were domesticated about the same time, about 10, years ago, in Western Asia. Cattle were first domesticated in the eastern Sahara desert about the same time, and other animals were domesticated later at different times in different areas. Animal domestication as a process still continues: ostriches, today an animal raised by pastoralists, were first domesticated in the midth century. There are many different herded animals, which vary by the place of origin.
Scholars believe that stock raising arose first when humans moved their domestic stock into drier lands distant from cultivated fields: but pastoralism was not and never has been a static process. Successful farmers adapt their processes to changing circumstances, such as environmental change, population density, and the spread of diseases. Social and technological developments such as road construction and transportation affect processes of production, storage, and distribution.
There is a multitude of reasons that people raise stock. Live animals are kept for their blood, milkand wool, for their dung as fuel and fertilizer, and as transportation and draft animals. They are also food storage, fed fodder that is inedible by humans to create human-edible food, and once slaughtered, they provide skins, sinew, fur, meat, hooves, and bones for a range of purposes from clothing to tools to house construction.
Further, stock animals are units of exchange: they can be sold, given as gifts or bride-wealth, or sacrificed for feasting or the general community welfare. Thus, the term "pastoralism" includes many different animals in many different environments.
In order to better study stock-tending, anthropologists have tried to categorize pastoralism in a number of ways. One way to look at pastoralism is a set of continuums following several threads: specialization, economy, technology and social changes, and mobility. Some farming systems are highly specialized—they only raise one type of animal—others are highly diversified systems which combine animal husbandry with crop production, hunting, foraging, fishing and trade into a single domestic economy.
Some farmers raise animals solely for their own subsistence needs, others produce solely to be marketed to others. Some farmers are helped or hindered by technological or social changes such as the construction of road networks and reliable transportation; the presence of a temporary labor force can also affect pastoralist economies.
Pastoralist people often adjust the size of their families to provide that labor force; or adjust the size of their stock to reflect their available labor. At its most basic, some pastoralists move their herds seasonally from pasture to pasture; while others always keep them in a pen and provide them forage. Some are full-time nomads. Nomadism—when farmers move their stock far enough distances to require moving their own houses—is another continuum which is used to measure pastoralism.
Semi-nomadic pastoralism is when farmers maintain a permanent home base where old people and tiny children and their caregivers live; full-time nomads move their entire family, clan, or even community as the demands of the animals require. Pastoralists are found in a wide range of environments, including plains, desert, tundra, and mountains.
In the Andes mountains of South America, for example, pastoralists move their flocks of llamas and alpacas between upland and lowland pastures, to escape extremes of temperature and precipitation. Some pastoralists are involved in trade networks: camels were used in the famous Silk Road to move a wide variety of goods across vast reaches of central Asia; llamas and alpacas played a crucial role in the Inca Road system.
Finding archaeological evidence for pastoralist activities is a bit tricky, and as you might guess, varies with the type of pastoralism being studied.Pastoral nomadismone of the three general types of nomadisma way of life of peoples who do not live continually in the same place but move cyclically or periodically. Pastoral nomads, who depend on domesticated livestock, migrate in an established territory to find pasturage for their animals.
Most nomadic groups have focal sites that they occupy for considerable periods of the year. Pastoralists may depend entirely on their herds or may also hunt or gather, practice some agriculture, or trade with agricultural peoples for grain and other goods.
Some seminomadic groups in Southwest Asia and North Africa cultivate crops between seasonal moves. The Kazakhsan Asiatic Turkic-speaking people who inhabit mainly Kazakhstan and the adjacent parts of the Uighur Autonomous Region of Xinkiang in China, were traditionally pastoral nomads, dwelling year-round in portable dome-shaped tents called gersor yurts constructed of dismountable wooden frames covered with felt.
A few continue to migrate seasonally to find pasturage for their livestock, including horses, sheep, goats, cattle, and a few camels. The Maasaion the other hand, are fully nomadic. They travel in bands in East Africa throughout the year and subsist almost entirely on the meat, blood, and milk of their herds. The patterns of pastoral nomadism are many, often depending on the type of livestock, the topographyand the climate.
Pastoralism and Subsistence Methods Involving Herds of Animals
See also transhumance. Pastoral nomadism Article Media Additional Info. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Facebook Twitter. Give Feedback External Websites. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article requires login.
External Websites. Encyclopedia Iranica - Nomadism. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Most groups have focal sites that they occupy for considerable periods of the year.
Pastoralists may depend entirely on their herds or may also hunt or gather,…. The region reaches the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea to the north.Toggle navigation.
Chapter : 2. Pastoralists in the Modern World. In contrast to other subsistence farmers, pastoral nomads depend primarily on animals rather than crops for survival. The animals provide milk, and their skins and hair are used for clothing and tents. Pastoral nomads consume mostly grain rather and than meat.
The animals are commonly not slaughtered, although dead ones may be consumed. The size of herd is both an important measure of power and prestige and their main security during adverse environmental conditions.
Most of the nomadic people follow barter system though some use money also. They exchange animals for food or grains. More often, part of nomadic group-perhaps the women and children - may plant crops at a fixed location while the rest of the group wanders with the herd.
Nomads might hire workers to practice sedentary agriculture in return for grain and protection.
Other nomads might sow grain in recently flooded areas and return later in the year to harvest the crop. Nomads select the type and number of animals for the herd according to local cultural and physical characteristics. The choice depends on the relative prestige of animals and the ability of species to adapt to a particular climate and vegetation.
The camel is most frequently desired in North Africa and the Middle East, followed by sheep and goats. In Central Asia, the horse is particularly important. See the Tutorial List.
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