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date: 27 July 2021

nomads and semi-nomads 

The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity
Konstantin KleinKonstantin Klein

Perennially or temporarily non-sedentary groups, often pastoralists, lived predominantly on the margins of large Late Antique states. Literary sources depict the nomadic lifestyle as radically different from sedentary life, tending to demonize nomads as thieves or marauders; the distinction between ‘nomad’ and ‘barbarian’ easily becomes blurred within these texts. Accounts also exist that idealize certain aspects of nomadic life. In both cases, nomads were often employed as a literary device to provide a ‘pristine’ alternative to an author’s own culture. Documentary sources, by contrast, show that nomadic and sedentary groups lived in a complex system of mutual exchange and interaction. Recent scholarship has argued that nomads rarely posed a serious threat to urban or rural communities.... ...

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