Lange, Dierk: Ancient Kingdoms of West Africa

Artikel-Nr.: 978-3-89754-115-3
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Africa-Centred and Canaanite-Israelite Perspectives XIV, Hardcover, 586 Seiten, 39 Illustrationen und Karten, 15 Fotos

Sub-Saharan African history does not feature in the world history of the classical period because it continues to be dominated by an emphasis on local paradigms. Using hitherto unexplored sources, this study places parts of West and also East Africa on the map for the ancient world. It shows in particular that the main clan and state structures of several West African kingdoms are based on the same dualistic pattern as that of the Canaanite-Israelite, and hence also Phoenician, societies. Supported by written records, oral traditions and cult-dramatic performances, these similarities suggest the existence of early trans-Saharan contacts reaching back to the pre-Roman period. The Phoenician slave trade appears to have been the single most important factor explaining the transfer of these organizational forms from North Africa to the sub-Saharan region, where they are particularly prominent in the Hausa and Yoruba societies. Similar social institutions were transmitted from the Semitic world to the Horn of Africa as a result of the ancient myrrh and frankincense trade. Their subsequent contextualization and local adaptation led to the rise of a number of great kingdoms in West and East Africa. Some of these polities grew so powerful that they conquered and controlled the successor states of their former metropolitan suzerains. Dealing with regional history as well, the volume presents the development of the West African empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhay from the new perspective of ethnogenesis. There are numerous original maps, charts and photographs to illustrate the text.
Dierk Lange is Professor of African History at the University of Bayreuth in Germany. He presents here the results of more than thirty years of research devoted to the history of Africa and explains his more recent focus on relations with Phoenician North Africa. Before his appointment in Bayreuth, he studied African and Islamic history as well as anthropology in Paris, worked on Arabic texts for four years in Cairo and taught African and Islamic history for five years at the University of Niamey. He crossed the Sahara several times and undertook more than fifteen research trips to Nigeria, Niger and Chad. His publications in three languages include two books, numerous articles in learned journals and two contributions to the UNESCO history of Africa. He is unique in comparing African cultural forms with those of the ancient Near East.

Periplus2008, Jahrbuch für außereurop. Geschichte

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol 3, 2005

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