Africa (Week 10) RECORDING

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Africa 1000 CE – 1500 CE

Difficulties in Studying Africa:

Difficulties in Studying Africa Size Time Cultures Languages


Size Sahara = Sq. Miles of lower 48 states Grows ~.6km each year World’s largest desert

Language, Cultures:

Language, Cultures No homogenous “African” culture Variety of climate, terrain provides barriers to acculturation 18 different “families” of languages

Other barriers:

Other barriers Largely illiterate societies No writing developments found, recorded in early histories Oral cultures Most commentaries provided by “alien” literate elite Arab/Muslim European/Christian

Erroneous Assumptions:

Erroneous Assumptions African societies remain in “stone age” while rest of world progresses Northeastern Africans exception (Ethiopia, Egypt, etc.) Western Bantu-speaking tribesmen master Agriculture ~1000BCE Utilize iron tools ~500 BCE Tribal society, no “kingdoms” or “empires” NE Africa again an exception Western Africans form kingdoms several times before “contact” w/ Asians, Europeans

Class Discussion:

Class Discussion Why are the assumptions in the previous slide a problem for us as historians? Who are these assumptions leaving out? Are these assumptions necessarily true? Are they necessarily untrue? What biases might we be bringing to this region? How can we approach the study of Africa better?

What we can glean:

What we can glean Religion in pre-Islamic Africa (generally) Multiple gods Belief in animating spirits controlling non-living things Belief that dead relatives watch from the spirit world BUT Some societies seem to have been non-Judeo-Christo-Islamic Monotheists Society differed with dictates of language, geography BUT regional differences seem to have been overcome either through language, trade, or religion

Sub-Saharan Africa:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Early Kingdoms:

Early Kingdoms Small, independent kingdoms traded amongst each other for necessities, luxuries Sub-Sahara, particularly Western Africa, had little to no trade with those north of the Desert before ~200 CE Adaptation of a new animal from Central Asia proved important to the expansion of trade across the Sahara

Camel introduced ~200 CE:

Camel introduced ~200 CE Adopted by Berber tribes of North Africa

Berbers as Traders:

Berbers as Traders Explore, map Sahara Establish trade routes, Oasis trading towns Trade with “Sudan” Dates, Salt, Exotic Animals, Slaves Gold, Silver, finished goods

Sudan? In West Africa?:

Sudan? In West Africa? Sudan from the Arabic word “Sood” meaning “Black person” أسود “Sudan” means “Land of the Black People” Differentiates between black Africans and Asiatic/Mediterranean Africans ~7 th century CE, Muslim traders take over these routes to the Sudan Extremely lucrative

Trade’s Effect on Sudan:

Trade’s Effect on Sudan Sub-Saharan Trade routes increased the affluence, power of Bantu-speaking, other tribes of Western Africa Gold mines Salt mines Slave traders Standard of living increased Cities become important Specialized culture

Ancient Kingdom of Ghana:

Ancient Kingdom of Ghana Established ~300CE – 1200 CE Called “Land of Gold” by Muslim traders أرض الذهب

Ghanaian Kingdom:

Ghanaian Kingdom Capitol of Kumbi becomes center of Gold-Salt trade routes Controlled the trade of the two commodities, but not the sources ~1076 merchants-turned-militants (Almorovids) conquered Ghana, make Islam official religion Arabic script adopted for official records Architectural changes Grazing destroyed grasslands Inept leadership topples Almorovids from Ghana

Fractured Kingdom:

Fractured Kingdom 11 th – 12 th century CE small, independent kingdoms vied for control of lucrative trade routes of Ghana ~1200 Mali Kingdom rose to power Different linguistic roots from Ghana Established a loose confederation of states into an informal “empire” 13 th century – 16 th century Mali Empire becomes the richest empire in Africa

Mali Empire:

Mali Empire

Mali Empire:

Mali Empire Timbuktu became a center of learning, arts, architecture in Africa, Muslim world Djenne in Nigeria also became a center of religion, philosophy

Crowning Achievement:

Crowning Achievement Djingareyber Mosque Mud and Fired Brick Construction Capacity for 2000 people at one time One of the Oldest Mosques in Africa

Islam and Mali:

Islam and Mali Sunni Islam Islam largely confined to cities, merchant class, and elites Literacy important to trading, administrative class Penetration of Islam into countryside hit-and-miss Largely scattered villages, stable society prevent spread of Islam

Malinese Power:

Malinese Power Territory 2x as large as Ghana’s Tribute paid by smaller states Military conquests of belligerent neighbors Mali written of in contemporary Muslim texts as far away as Shiraz, Baghdad, Mecca Pilgrims from Mali follow trade routes established ~200 CE

Mansa Musa:

Mansa Musa Devout Sunni Muslim Piety and Trade were important to the Empire Immensely rich Hajj Pilgrimage 1324: 60,000 People 12,000 Servants Two Tons of Gold in Zakat

Effects of Mansa Musa’s Pilgrimage:

Effects of Mansa Musa’s Pilgrimage Devalued Gold in Egypt for 20 years Too much gold in the economy Andalusian architects brought in to update, enhance cities Wide reach of Mali wealth and prestige University of Sankore Draws judges, teacher, lecturers from all over Muslim world Drawn by generous wages, prestige

Kingdom of Zimbabwe:

Kingdom of Zimbabwe

Lost Civilization: Great Zimbabwe:

Lost Civilization: Great Zimbabwe Great Zimbabwe leads a loose confederacy of African city-states from about 11 th to early 14 th century CE Fusion of Swahili & Bantu-speaking cultures Traded gold, ivory, cattle, grains with Indian Ocean civilizations Chinese pottery shards, Arabic coins, Mediterranean glass found in excavation site Why did Zimbabwe collapse? We don’t definitely know Natural disaster (drought) Political instability Trade shifted north Gold mines depleted

Spotlight: Medicine in Zimbabwe:

Spotlight: Medicine in Zimbabwe Zimbabwe’s importance also tied to medicinal herbs, substances useful in Medieval world Salicylic Acid compounds from relative of white willow ( salix alba) used to treat inflammation, aches and pains, reduce fevers Mixed with foods as part of holistic medical practice White China Clay (Kaolin) used to treat diarrhea related to dysentery, cholera Also used to treat ulcerative colitis in some cases Large mineral deposits of Kaolin in area mined as late as 1450


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