Striking photos of Bedouin nomads at the turn of the century

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36 PHOTOS
History of the Bedouin 'desert dweller' people
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History of the Bedouin 'desert dweller' people
(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)

 A woman weaves fabric as her family looks on.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Two women work at a millstone.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)

Men perform a sword dance at a wedding.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

A Bedouin man poses on horseback.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Mounted warriors.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Men with trained falcons used for hunting.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Men play a leapfrog-like game during wedding celebrations.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Women carry bundles of papyrus.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

A young man plays an instrument.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

A family dries cheeses on the roof of their tent.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)

Men participate in a shooting competition.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Women milk their herd of goats.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Men dance during wedding celebrations.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

A man with a hunting falcon.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)

Bedouins at the Tomb of Lazarus near Jerusalem.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)

Bedouins rest near the pyramids of Giza.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)
(Photo via Library of Congress)
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The Bedouin people ("desert dwellers" in Arabic) originated in the Arabian Peninsula and spread across North Africa and the Levant, moving from place to place in the harsh deserts of the region.

Historically, Bedouins staked their livelihoods on the herding of camels and goats, as well as the occasional raid or extraction of tribute from settlements.

These photos from the end of the 19th century capture a range of Bedouins at a time of change. As modern governments projected their power into previously ungovernable tracts of the desert, many Bedouins chose or were forced to abandon a purely nomadic lifestyle and transitioned to a semi-nomadic or sedentary urban way of life.

Today, even Bedouins who have settled into cities maintain distinctive cultural traditions, from poetry and dance to tenting and camel riding.

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