Prof. Dr. Jürgen Tubach
Dr. Ute Pietruschka


other Phase of Research:


Project Group E: Reflexion and Concepts, Project E4

The image of the nomad in the Syriac literature (4th–13th century)


The project focuses on Syriac records composed in different literary forms reflecting nomadic life. In early Syriac writings we find especially information on Arabic tribes which had contact with urban centres under Byzantine and Sassanian rule. The sources reflect the multiplicity of perspectives concerning this interconnection: economic relations based on the participation of nomads in long distance trade; religious relations connected with the Christianization of Arab tribes, and, last but not least, the role of nomads in the foreign and domestic policy of the two major powers in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The analysis of the sources (e.g. historiographical literature, hagiography, letters, poems) does not aim to reconstruct nomadic culture, it will rather show how the image of nomads changed in the course of centuries. The structural change of tribal organization and its reflection in Syriac sources is especially worth studying in the 6/7th centuries.

An analysis of the term "Barbarians" is still to be accomplished; closely connected with this is a study of terms designating mobile and sedentary modes of life.

The project aims to set up a data base of all the relevant source materials arranged systematically according to principles such as time, origin, genre, topics, and terminology.


Dr. Ute Pietruschka

Bedouin. In: Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, Bd.1, Leiden u.a., 214–218.

Tent, Tent pegs. In: Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an (in print).