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The Diminishing Of Nomadic Power And Importance Of Economic Development

1556 words - 6 pages

The Diminishing of Nomadic Power and Importance of Economic Development
From the time human society has divided the labor and agrarian societies emerged, the type of relationships between nomadic and sedentary societies can be characterized as hostile, warlike and suspicious. There might be a number of prerequisites for such kind of relations. Firstly, nomads’ economies were not entirely self-sufficient. The fact that their sources of food (mostly meat and milk) and clothing (wool and leather) were not diverse enough pushed them to continuous interactions with and dependence on sedentary societies’ goods. Therefore, incursions were common part of the relations. However, trading markets were also used in order to perform the exchange of nomadic products to sedentary. Secondly, nomads needed to expand their lands to have enough space to pasture livestock, which was their primary source of food, clothing and could be used in warfare. At the beginning of the nomadic – sedentary relationships, nomads were obviously more developed in military way, while sedentary societies were in the low level of military preparedness. Ancient sources, like Herodotus’, prove that nomads were “invincible and unapproachable” stating “They have so devised that none who attacks them can escape, and none can catch them if they desire not to be caught”. However, the change in the dominance occurred with time. In the long run sedentary societies managed to accumulate wealth and achieve economic stability through trade and various governmental taxes. This allowed them to hire warriors and defend themselves from nomadic raids. In addition, science was developing dynamically in the cities, what encouraged invention of many technological advances, later successfully used for military purposes. To illustrate the tendency of change of dominant power in relationships between nomads and sedentary societies three examples would be presented. In the first one, Scythians’ power over Persians, after that transitional period when Hsiung-nu maintained equal relations with China and at the end, China’s dominance over Turks will be discussed.
War between Scythians and Persians can provide a lot of evidence on how strong the nomads were in ancient times. Despite the lack of sources, Herodotus’ overview can be considered quite reliable, because he has been called “Father of History” and lived in close time period to the events he wrote about. However, his bias as a Greek against Persians cannot be ignored in his works. Therefore, it is important to examine evidence through a prism of objectivity. Herodotus gives description of Scythians’ military power in The History of Herodotus: “They fight both on horseback and on foot, neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, but their favorite weapon is the battle-axe”. From this extract it appears that nomads are physically strong and well-prepared in military way so that they can use lances and battle-axe, which are heavy enough...

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