Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
Posted at Mar 18/2007 05:07PM:
Reem: The term Saracen was of an outsider’s creation and not a name the Arabs used to identify themselves with. It was transformed from a specific name of an Arab tribe to a generic one that was applied to the inhabitants of Arabia by the Graeco-Romans. Saraceni was referred to the Arab nomadic Scenitae and to the Arab settled groups. The reason behind the creation of this name lies in the fact that the Romans through their relationships with the nomads of the Peninsula, had to identify these people with a name in order not to confuse them with the Roman provinces in Arabia and the settled Arabs. It is believed that the term Saracen comes from the Arabic word “Sharq/ Sharqiyyin” which means “east/ easterners” or from the word “Sariq/ sariqin” which means “thief/ thieves”.
Posted at Mar 19/2007 09:20AM:
ian: One of the key aspects of this term is that it has continued as a derisive term for Arab groups well into the 20th centuiry. Its power lies in the ability of empire to label those whom it deems inferior or wants to give some sense of order to because that empire lacks the ability to understand the complexities of the relationship between settled and nomadic arab groups.