© 2014

Ethnoarchaeology of the Kel Tadrart Tuareg

Pastoralism and Resilience in Central Sahara


Part of the SpringerBriefs in Archaeology book series (BRIEFSARCHAE, volume 6)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Stefano Biagetti
    Pages 1-14
  3. Stefano Biagetti
    Pages 15-25
  4. Stefano Biagetti
    Pages 43-61
  5. Stefano Biagetti
    Pages 63-98
  6. Stefano Biagetti
    Pages 99-142
  7. Stefano Biagetti
    Pages 147-151
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 153-154

About this book


This book focuses on the issues of resilience and variability of desert pastoralists, explicitly challenging a set of traditional topics of the discourse around pastoralism in arid lands of the Old World. Based on a field research carried out on the Kel Tadrart Tuareg in Libya, various facets of a surprisingly successful adaptation to an extremely arid environment are investigated. By means of an ethnoarchaeological approach, explored are the Kel Tadrart interactions with natural resources, the settlement patterns, the campsite structures, and the formation of the pastoral archaeological landscape, focusing on variability and its causes. The resilience of the Kel Tadrart is the key to understand the reasons of their choice to stay and live in the almost rainless Acacus Mountains, in spite of strong pressure to sedentarize in the neighboring oases. Through the collection of the interviews, participant observation, mapping of inhabited and abandoned campsites, remote sensing, and archival sources, various and different Kel Tadrart strategies, perceptions, and material cultures are examined. This book fills an important gap in the ethnoarchaeological research in central Sahara and in the study of desert pastoralism.​ Desert lands are likely to increase over the next decades but, our knowledge of human adaptations to these areas of the world is still patchy and generally biased by the idea that extremely arid lands are not suited for human occupation.​


Archaeology of nomadism Ethnography of Kel Ajjer Tuareg Prehistory and history of Tadrart Acacus Settlement distribution of current Kel Tadrart sites Theoretical issues in pastoralism Tifinagh inscriptions

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Parc de Recerca - Ciències Socials i HumanesUniversitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain

About the authors

Stefano Biagetti (Ph.D. 2012 Institute of Archaeology, University College London) is an ethnoarchaeologist who has been involved in Saharan studies since 2002. He was research fellow at the ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome (until November 2012), studying the development of pastoralism in SW Libya, from prehistory to current societies. He is currently fellow of ‘The Italian Society for Ethnoarchaeology’ (Rome). In 2014 he has been awarded of a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship to be held (from October 2014) at the Complexity and Socio-Ecological Dynamics Research Group (CaSEs, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona), focusing on the study of resilience in arid lands, and on the variability of pastoralism in marginal environments. He has published in major journals such as Nature, Journal of African Archaeology, Journal of Arid Environments, Azania, and African Archaeological Review.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Ethnoarchaeology of the Kel Tadrart Tuareg
  • Book Subtitle Pastoralism and Resilience in Central Sahara
  • Authors Stefano Biagetti
  • Series Title SpringerBriefs in Archaeology
  • Series Abbreviated Title SpringerBriefs Archaeology
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Author(s) 2014
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Social Sciences (R0)
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-08529-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-08530-2
  • Series ISSN 1861-6623
  • Series E-ISSN 2192-4910
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XV, 154
  • Number of Illustrations 9 b/w illustrations, 56 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Archaeology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“The volume will be of broad interest to practitioners and researchers engaged with both the past and present of pastoralist lifeways. It will be of particular interest to those working in ethnoarchaeology and archaeology more generally, and not just those interested in the Saharan record. … The volume is a significant achievement and presents a very useful and insightful study on the adaptability and resilience of the Tuareg pastoral community to this harsh and arid environment.” (Robin Bendrey, Pastoralism, Vol. 5, June, 2015)