Turning the world upside down: the emergence of camel caravans and overland trade in the Ancient Near East by Professor Peter Magee

Professor Magee explored how the use of dromedaries for overland trade fundamentally reconfigured the political and economic landscape of the ancient Near East. He discussed why the dromedary was domesticated and how it was used, suggesting food as a motivating factor – female camels for the provision of milk and young males for their meat. Peter Magee also explained that evidence at Tell Abraq suggests it was not until c1000BC that dromedary camels were used for transport. During this period, settlement intensification throughout Arabia led to increased productivity and trade in goods, and the need for those goods to be transported. He believes that with the increased activity, camel caravans became a destabilising factor in that they were able to bypass control of the state and taxation, and giving rise to a situation which may perhaps have contributed to the fall of Babylon itself.

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