A history of pastoral nomads in the Islamic Middle East, Nomads in the Middle East by Beatrice Forbes Manz (Cambridge University Press, 2021) charts the rise of nomadic power from the formation of Islam through the Middle Ages, when Mongols and Turks ruled most of the region, to the decline of nomadic power in the twentieth century. Offering a vivid insight into the impact of nomads on the politics, culture, and ideology of the region, Beatrice Forbes Manz examines and challenges existing perceptions of these nomads, including the popular cyclical model of nomad-settled interaction developed by Ibn Khaldun. Looking at both the Arab Bedouin and the nomads from the Eurasian steppe, Manz demonstrates the significance of Bedouin and Turco-Mongolian contributions to cultural production and political ideology in the Middle East, and shows the central role played by pastoral nomads in war, trade, and state-building throughout history. Nomads provided horses and soldiers for war, the livestock and guidance which made long-distance trade possible, and animal products to provision the region's growing cities.
Maggie Freeman is a PhD student in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East.