When tribes are in charge: Tribal societies in the 19th century and in the Bible.

A noble ancestry was of major importance for a tribe. In a society that was largely oral, this was reflected in an abundance of tribal hero-tales, genealogies and poetry that celebrated the heroic deeds of the ancestors. Each tribe had its own collection or in the case of general traditions, its own versions. As a source of historiography these traditions are less useful, but they provide a fascinating insight into the purposes of history creation in tribal societies.

See Also: Near Eastern tribal societies during the 19th century: Economy, society and politics between tent and town (Sheffield: Equinox, 2013).

By Eveline van der Steen
School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology
University of Liverpool
September 2013

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