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This books provides an in-depth study of tribal life in the Near East in the nineteenth century, exploring how tribes shaped society, economy and politics in the desert, as well as in villages and towns. Until the First World War Near Eastern society was tribally organized. Particularly in the Levant and the Arabian peninsula, where the Ottoman empire was weak, large and powerful tribes such as Anaze, Beni Sakhr and Shammar interacted and competed for control of the land, the people and the economy. Drawing on a wide range of accounts by Victorian travellers, adventurers and explorers as well as archaeological evidence, the book highlights the tribal organization as a driving force in Near Eastern society. While a straight comparison between ancient and more recent tribal communities is fraught with difficulties and must be treated with caution, the book shows that a better understanding of nineteenth-century tribal ethics and customs provides useful insights into the history and power relations of the more distant past and the underlying causes for the present conflicts of the region.