The tribal grouping known as the Laguatan, Leuathae and Lawata in various late Roman and Arabic sources are identified as a powerful confederation of Libyan tribes. The confederation comprised two main types of tribes. On the one hand there were neo-berbers who migrated from the east to the west through the Libyan desert in late antiquity; on the other, there were the original inhabitants of the desert oases, of Cyrenaica and of Tripolitania who formed alliances with the newcomers. The growth of the confederation had a destabilising effect on the Roman frontiers and severe raids were made against the more Romanised areas, notably the territoria of the coastal cities.
Through the sedentary agriculture of the allied Libyans, based on settlements such as Ghirza, and new conquest and exploitation, the Laguatan established an economic and agricultural regime largely independent of Rome. It is inappropriate, therefore, to view the Laguatan simply as camel-riding nomads as has been done in the past, nor was the diffusion of the camel a decisive factor in the timing of the onset of their raids. It is argued, on the contrary, that the camel was present at a much earlier date, that it was mainly used as a pack- and farm animal in pre-Islamic times and that the horse was the main instrument of the Laguatan in warfare and raiding. The Laguatan were the instigators of a Libyan cultural, religious and political revival and their history is of great importance to an understanding of the late Roman and Islamic eras.