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It was the legendary traveller Wilfred Thesiger who first introduced Gavin Young to the Marshes of Iraq. Since then Young has been entranced by both the beauty of the Marshes and by the Marsh Arabs who inhabit them, a people whose lifestyle is almost unchanged from that of their predecessors, the Ancient Sumerians. On his return to the Marshes some years later Gavin Young found that the twentieth-century had rudely intruded on this lifestyle and that war was threatening to make the Marsh Arabs existence extinct. Return to the Marshes, first published in 1977, is at once a moving tribute to a unique way of life as well as a love story to a place and its people. 'A superbly written essay which combines warmth of personal tone, a good deal of easy historical scholarship and a talent for vivid description rarely found outside good fiction.' Jonathan Raban, Sunday Times
The Arab tribes of Iraq differ widely in custom but remain in all essentials of thought and conduct a distinctive and unique group. Their land embraces wide deserts, fertile fields and boundless swamps; its unique features shape the lives of its people. Taking the figure of Haji Rikkan as a central focus, the writer-traveller attempts to create a picture of Arab tribal life as a whole.
Annotation. This text is for those wishing to develop an understanding of a cultural legacy and lifestyle that survives today only as a fragmented cultural inheritance. The book illustrates how the economy and lives of the Ma'dan (Marsh Arabs) that spans over 5000 years remained similar to the ancient practices of their Sumerian forebears.
What can the present tell us about the past? From 1968 to 1990, Edward Ochsenschlager conducted ethnoarchaeological fieldwork near a mound called al-Hiba, in the marshes of southern Iraq. In examining the material culture of three tribes—their use of mud, reed, wood, and bitumen, and their husbandry of cattle, water buffalo, and sheep—he chronicles what is now a lost way of life. He helps us understand ancient manufacturing processes, an artifact's significance and the skill of those who create and use it, and the substantial moral authority wielded by village craftspeople. He reveals the complexities involved in the process of change, both natural and enforced. Al-Hiba contains the remains of Sumerian people who lived in the marshes more than 5,000 years ago in a similar ecological setting, using similar material resources. The archaeological evidence provides insights into everyday life in antiquity. Ochsenschlager enhances the comparisons of past and present by extensive illustrations from his fieldwork and also from the University Museum's rare archival photographs taken in the late nineteenth century by John Henry Haynes. This was long before Saddam Hussein drove one of the tribes from the marshes, forced the Bedouin to live elsewhere, and irrevocably changed the lives of those who tried to stay.
Offers a history of the people of Iraq and describes daily life in the cities and rural areas, education, and favorite foods of Iraq.

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