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date: 11 December 2023



  • Jean-François Salles
  •  and J. F. Healey


Ancient tribes and peoples who lived in, and around the modern Arabian peninsula. The earliest references from the Neo-Assyrian annals and the Bible date back to the 9th–7th cents. bce; there was no relation at that time between the Arabs (sometimes confused with the Aramaeans) and the country of *Arabia. The texts refer to nomadic tribes in the Sinai, in Jordan and Syria, and even along the banks of the Euphrates. *Herodotus (1) was acquainted with the Arabs of southern Palestine and the Sinai, and mentions the Arabs of the frankincense region—the term Arab, meaning ‘shepherd, nomad’, appears in a 6th cent. bce inscription from Yemen. More information comes from *Diodorus (3) Siculus (using *Agatharchides and reflecting the findings of *Alexander (3) the Great's expeditions in the *Red Sea) and *Strabo (using Hellenistic sources and describing *Aelius Gallus' campaign in Arabia under Augustus), who refers to Arabs in Mesopotamia (along the Euphrates), in Egypt (Sinai and Red Sea), southern Jordan (the *Nabataeans) and the Syrian steppe and even in eastern Arabia (the people of *Gerrha).


  • Near East

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