GENERAL SURVEY OF SPREAD OF PASTORAL NOMADISM
The domestication and breeding of animals clearly shows that while some species could be bred in a range of climatic and geographical regions a few were confined to specific regions only. Sheep, goat, cattle, pig and horses had more adaptability to the food available and climatic changes and could spread to wider regions while camel, yak, reindeer and llamas remained confined to specific regions where climatic and ecological conditions suited them. The pastoral nomadIsm also bred specific species but in many cases had combination of species in their herds for example sheep and goat along with horses or cattle with horses, or sheep or goat with camels have been reported in different regions.
In most of the cases nomads shared the same zones with agriculturalists for their subsistence and that of their stock.
Pastoralism was practiced in Eurasian steppes from around 7th millennium BC. It had also penetrated to east European steppes by the 6th millennium BC and spread quickly to adjoining areas. The mobility was limited in early phase. The use of horse on a large scale from 2nd millennium BC gave an impetus to nomadism proper and it occupied pride of place in nomadic pastoralism and covered large areas as a dominant and distinct culture for almost 3000 years. Around the end of 2nd millennium and beginning of first millennium BC this nomadism penetrated to Mongolia and China also. In fact Chinese sources refer to contant conflicts with northern barbarians of different names, and the continual opposition of nomadic and settled people. It is suggested that the building of the Great Wall of China was a result of this opposition (Richard N. Frye, History of Humanity, Vol. III).
As already indicated the regions of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Arabia probably were the centres of origin of agriculture and domestication of animals. The existence of pastoral nomadism in this region has been attributed by scholars to the dates ranging from 4th millennium BC and 2nd millennium BC. Here the nomads had close association with agriculturalists and for this reason many scholars consider the dominant trend as being semi nomadic and movement restricted within a limited territory. In the region of Arabia nomadism dominated and had a wide spread upto Sahara in Africa. Camel played a crucial role in nomadism in this region. In the region of Afghanistan, Iran and Asia Minor pastoralism was practiced from 3rd millennium BC but nomadism emerged much later and was at its peak during the middle ages (10th – 14th century). Nomadism in this region is ascribed to the displacement of sedentary populations.