HOME The Cotsen Advanced Seminar on the Archaeology of Mobility
Nomads in the Old and in the New World

The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology is a research unit at the University of California, Los Angeles established in 1973 to promote the comprehensive study of the human past. It provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, graduate students, research associates, volunteers and the general public to gather together and share their exploration of ancient societies. Recently an investigation of the state of affairs in the study of nomads has been initiated by the Cotsen Institute.

Many archaeologist behave like nomads. They travel around the world looking for places of interest. Usually they find these in remote areas where the climate is harsh and resources are scarce. Here they will settle for weeks or even months at the time. But they will leave immediately once the site no longer offers them new information, or their funding runs out. And soon they will start preparing for their next expedition.

Still, nomads are rarely studied by archaeologists. They often are part of the fringes of a society and leave few traces of their activities. The archaeologists that have entered this challenging field of study mostly concentrate on prehistoric periods. A better understanding of nomadic people in the past will not only fill a gap in our knowledge of human history. It is also very significant for the empowerment of those currently adhering to a nomadic life-style. Their further marginalization by the rapid development of those around them seems a world-wide phenomenon.

UCLA has brought together an international group of about 40 archaeologists, anthropologists and historians with an interest in hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, gypsies and Bedouin. This group will get together to discuss this topic, which will be publish in the Cotsen Advanced Seminar Series. The volume on nomads, is expected to be the authoritative volume on the subject for years to come.

Contributions to this volume originate from three sources. First are the chapters submitted by invited authors, before the deadline of 19 June 2004. These contributions will be reviewed by other members of the research group before being accepted for publication. Second are the proceedings of a panel during the 69th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (March 31-April 4, 2004 in Montreal, Canada), one of the most important archaeological forums in the world. The participation of eight speakers, one co-author and one discussant is funded by the individual contributors, or their employer.

The third source of contributions is a workshop to be held in Los Angeles, 22-24 June 2004. This will comprise presentations, but also a session during which previous contributions are discussed. Other planned events are a video conference meeting, facilitated by Internet2 and UCLA's Visualization Portal, and a lunch hosted by the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

The deadline for the submission of contributions or revisions is Monday 15 November 2004, publication of the volume is expected shortly thereafter. Issues that will be addressed include definitions and terminology, the transition between nomadic and settled life-styles and the discrepancies between our historical and archaeological sources.

Archaeology of Mobility: Old World and New World Nomadism

edited by Hans Barnard and Willeke Wendrich

There have been edited books on the archaeology of nomadism in various regions, and there have been individual archaeological and anthropological monographs, but nothing with the kind of coverage provided in this volume. Its strength and importance lies in the fact that it brings together a worldwide collection of studies of the archaeology of mobility. This book provides a ready-made reference to this worldwide phenomenon and is unique in that it tries to redefine pastoralism within a larger context by the term mobility. It presents many new ideas and thoughtful approaches, especially in the Central Asian region (Cotsen Advanced Seminars 4, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology 2008).

ISBN-13: 978-1-931745-50-5
ISBN-10: 1-931745-50-1
Table of Contents and Index
ISBN-13: 978-1-931745-49-9
ISBN-10: 1-931745-49-8
Table of Contents and Index

Click on the links below for scholarly reviews of the final volume:
P.L. Kohl, 2009
I. Kuijt, 2009
D. Gifford-Gonzalez, 2010 J.L. Phillips, 2011

Hans Barnard is a Research Associate at the Cotsen Institute, Willeke Wendrich is Assistant Professor in Egyptian Archaeology at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA and affiliated with the Cotsen Institute. Both have done research on the pastoral nomads in the desert between the Nile and the Red Sea in the past (the Blemmyans) and at present (the Ababda). They have brought together an international group of about 40 archaeologists, anthropologists and historians with an interest in hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, gypsies and Bedouin. This group will publish a Cotsen Advanced Seminar on nomadism, which is expected to be the authoritive volume on the subject for years to come.
Donors who decide to contribute to the success of this important and exciting project will find their names mentioned on this website as well as in all further communications. In due course they will obviously also receive a copy of the final publication. If you would like to contribute, to make suggestions or to obtain additional information, please contact us at <nomads@ucla.edu>.
Symposium Montreal (abstracts)
HOME Workshop Los Angeles (presentations)
Salt Lake City, Spring 2005: Panel on Archaeological Residue Analysis
Panel on Ancient Apprenticeship
The fourth Cotsen Advanced Seminar on Nomadism is made possible by:
 - the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA;
 - UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures;
UCLA International Institute, Special Academic Cooperative Projects;
 - and all individual participants.

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