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Ian Straughn

Islamic Archaeology

Archaeology and Religion

Islamic Landscapes

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

Posted at Feb 23/2007 10:56AM:
Zoe: The North Arabian camel saddle was developed sometime from 500-100 BCE. It is formed by two inverted saddle bows that rest on a single or two pads in front and in back of the camel's hump. Another pad is then laid atop this frame and the hump, and this is where the rider sits. As a pack saddle, the weight is distributed evenly and tied on either side of the saddle. In either case this type of saddle distributes the weight of the rider and/or pack over the camel's ribcage, rather than on its hump. The North Arabian saddle allowed for two things: because the rider is more securely atop the camel (as opposed to the former South Arabian saddle), he was then able to use swords and pikes mounted as opposed to just the arrows that had been possible before. In addition, the new saddle positioned the rider much higher up, which gave great advantage in battle. Both of these facts, R. Bulliet argues in "The Camel and the Wheel", led to a change in the balance of military power in the area and allowed the camel nomads to take control of the caravan routes, which in turn allowed for more social and economic integration of camel tribes into settled society, and this progression of increased importance of the camel is what allowed it to beat out the wheel in Arabia. (Bulliet)

Posted at Mar 06/2007 01:54PM:
ian: Well put. So can a new configuration of sticks on the back of a camel really change the world?