Essential Histories

Essential Histories

Essential Classical Societies

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The Libyans were an indigenous group of peoples that were distributed in an area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Siwa Oasis in Egypt. They spoke Berber languages and are today more commonly known as the Berber peoples, a name they received from the Romans. The name Libyan is a name they received from the Greeks and meant desert dwelling.


The Libyans were organized into various smaller tribal kingdoms centred around a dynasty. Many of these kings were worshipped by their subjects.


Most Libyans, particularly in desert areas, were semi-nomadic. Though nearer to the sea they did form large cities and sedentary societies. They were mostly pastoralists, who tended their flocks.

Traditionally, men took care of livestock, while women looked after the family and handicrafts. Of the Libyan handicrafts, the weaving of pile tapestries, known as kilim, was of particular note.


The Libyans were renowned for their excelent cavalry and Libyan cavalry were frequently used by Carthage as mercenaries.


The Libyans had a very old polytheistic religion with some shamanistic tendencies, that influenced Greek and Egyptian mythology through trade contacts and short lived colonization and occupation of Libyan territory. Early Libyans also practiced some kind of ancestor worship. In time some of the tombs of prominent ancestors developed into small pyramids.