Camel saddle (tarik or tamzak), Tuareg, Algerian Sahara, date unknown (probably 20th century). Leather, rawhide, wood, parchment or vellum, wool, silk, tin-plated metal, brass-plated metal, iron, copper alloy, and cheetah skin, 75 x 71 x 46 cm. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, gift of the Estate of Dr. Lloyd Cabot Briggs, 1975, 975-32-50/11927. Photograph © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Tuareg artisans make camel saddles by covering the wood core with red- and green-dyed leather and decorating the pommel and other parts of the saddle with metal embellishments filled with geometric patterns similar to those found in Tuareg jewelry. Historians believe that trans-Saharan commerce during antiquity was irregular until the widespread adoption of the camel in the early centuries of the Common Era, which facilitated trade across and within the Sahara. Since the decline of trans-Saharan commerce and the settlement of nomads in the 20th century, the region has developed into a dynamic tourist center; camel riders are seen as part of the allure.