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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The structure of local society in the early Maghrib: the elders
Author:Shaw, Brent D.ISNI
Periodical:Maghreb Review
Geographic term:Maghreb
Subjects:acephalous society
Abstract:For the greater part of the history of North Africa in the Roman period the conditions which either created 'tribal' cohesion or permitted its existence within the sphere of hegemony of the central State did not exist. The norm of conciliar activity within African society remained centred at much lower levels of integration, in the 'domus' (extended family), 'familia' (social block formed of extended families), or in the small village community, the focal point of communal life in the countryside. 'Tribal' councils ordinarily came into existence only at the onset of a crisis. This article first examines the little evidence that has survived concerning village administration in 'pre-Roman' Africa. Then it discusses the institution of elders ('seniores') as village councils in the first three centuries of Roman empire in North Africa, showing the continuity of the institution. Finally it attempts to place the elders within a consistent 'tribal' hierarchy and to trace their evolution in rural and urban contexts as this hierarchy underwent periods of change and integration. Notes, ref.