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What Happened to the Ancient Libyans? Chasing Sources across the Sahara from Herodotus to Ibn Khaldun

From: Journal of World History
Volume 14, Number 4, December 2003
pp. 459-500 | 10.1353/jwh.2003.0060


Determining group identity in the ancient world, especially when peoples were lumped under the constructs of tribe and ethnicity, was based on point of view, and labeling was a haphazard process. A case in point is the fate of those North African ancient writers called Libyans. Did their descendants become the people Arab writers referred to as Sanhaja and Zanata? Despite a significant degree of cultural discontinuity, the answer seems to be yes. A principal issue is the reliability of sources, which are markedly better for the era of Arab domination than for the ancient period.