Semitic Tribes

Definition: The term Semitic tribes (or Semites) refers to several groups of nomads and camel pastoralists who spoke related Semitic languages and included Arabs, Aramaeans, Jews, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Abyssinians, and Phoenicians. They roamed Arabia and Mesopotamia beginning somewhere in the third to fourth millennium BC, and dominated the Babylonian society beginning about 3000 BC. They are associated with the invention of the earliest alphabet, from evidence found at Serabit el-Khadem, on the Sinai peninsula of modern Egypt.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology. Sources for the term include the references listed on the front page of the Dictionary, and the websites listed in the sidebar.

Also Known As: Semites