Anthony Sattin on how nomads shaped settled civilization

Anthony Sattin in northern Iran (Photo by Sylvie Franquet)

Our oldest stories deal with the relationship between settled people and nomads.

From the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh to the Biblical tale of Cain and Abel, it’s a story of conflict, fear and control.

But for much of history, settled and nomadic peoples lived side by side.

In fact, nomads were crucial catalysts and creators, and prime agents of social renewal.

They made and broke kings, gave prominence to free trade, and were crucial in the free movement of ideas across the Great Eurasian Steppe.

Why have nomads gotten such a bad rap throughout history? And why is their knowledge essential today?

Anthony Sattin joins me to discuss all this, and more.

He’s the author of Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World, The Gates of Africa, and The Pharaoh’s Shadow. A long-time contributor to the Sunday Times travel section and to Conde Nast Traveller, his work has also appeared in The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and other publications.

You can read more about him on his website. And follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

We spoke about nomadic empires, cycles of history, pastoral peoples, and how steppe nomads contributed to the European Renaissance. 

These are the books we mentioned in the podcast:

We also mentioned:

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About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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