Ancient cultures of sub-Saharan Africa

» Posted by on Dec 8, 2009 in News


he current level of our knowledge allows to assert with certainty that nowhere in sub-Saharan Africa before the turn of VII-VIII centuries. Mr. Oe. did not work out with the antagonistic classes of society, and that only after the North and East Africa, the Arab nations in sub-Saharan Africa met with the script.

Undoubtedly, however, that different regions there were certain common, distinguished by certain specific features of the material and spiritual culture, that it is more accurately defined as predtsivilizatsii or prototsivilizatsii.

These, roughly speaking, the most ancient civilizations, adding that in general, coincided with the transition to the Iron Age throughout sub-Saharan Africa, were formed in several key areas, which are separated by vast distances, which seems to have persisted the people who lived during the early stages of primitive society. These centers of civilization were the Western Sudan and the neighboring part of the Sahel with the zone in the north, as well as the adjacent area of ​​the Sahara, central and south-western part of modern Nigeria; basin of the upper reaches of the river. Lualaba (now Shaba province in Zaire), the central and eastern parts of present-day Republic of Zimbabwe, which owes its name to just the brilliant civilization that developed there in the first centuries of II millennium AD. Oe., and finally, the African Indian Ocean coast. Archaeological research of the last two decades clearly show a direct continuity between the ancient civilizations and African civilizations of the Middle Ages, the great powers of the Western Sudan (Ghana, Mali, Songhai), Ife, Benin, Congo, Zimbabwe, suahiliyskoy civilization.

Reached the highest development of ancient civilization, established in the Western Sudan and Nigeria. The Central African centers lagging behind by more recent metallurgy of iron and copper and the major urban settlements. East African center featured some specifics related to the role of maritime trade in its formation.

The separation of centers of civilization of tropical Africa significant distance does not mean that there were no connection between them. They can be traced between the Nigerian and zapadnosudanskim centers, between the latter and the Congo basin. Archaeological data show contacts that existed between the territory of today's Zambia and Zimbabwe and the region of the Upper Lualaba and the East African coast, although most of these data relate to the beginning of II millennium AD. Oe.

Scene. Tassili. Ager. IV thousand years, and. Oe.

In another case with non-African contacts. If the Western Sudan to VIII. Mr. Oe. already had many centuries of contact with North Africa and East Africa had a long association with the Red Sea basin, and then the area of ​​the Gulf and South Asia, Central Africa is a Nigerian and non-African societies foci do not directly interact.

But this does not rule out indirect contact, such as Zimbabwe's predecessor civilization to the Middle East and South Asia. They were carried out through the harbor of the East African coast. There are, for example, finds the Roman products in a fairly remote from the caravan and sea routes, the inner regions of the African continent.

The high level of civilization zapadnosudanskogo focus was the result of the development of local societies, although long-standing and stable relations with the class societies of the Mediterranean, to some extent accelerated this development. Links witnessed numerous petroglyphs along the two major ancient routes through the Sahara: from southern Morocco to the area of ​​the inner delta. Niger, and from the Fezzan to the eastern tip of the big bend of the Niger near the present city of Gao. This is the so-called roads of the chariots: rock paintings of horse-drawn chariots, talking about quite lively contacts, but also with certain limitations on time and in character. On the one hand, the appearance of horses in the Sahara applies only to the I millennium BC. Oe., and the other, on their own chariots Saharan images, according to experts, could hardly be used for any purpose other than prestige, because of the fragility of structures, not allowing them to be used either as cargo or, perhaps, as a battle wagon.

The original "technical revolution" occurred with the advent of the camel in the Sahara around the turn of the II-I centuries. BC. Oe. and had serious social consequences, determining the form of relations of the desert and their sedentary neighbors to the south and allowing trade across the desert to become a stable and regulated institution. However, the latter apparently occurred later and finally has been associated with the advent of the Arabs.

Trans-Saharan contacts have played probably a role in the formation of the West African industry, the focus of the Bronze Age, Iron preceded steel – the source, only in the entire sub-Saharan Africa. Excavations French scholar Nicole Lambert in Mauritania in the 60s. proved the existence of this large center of copper and brass industry. In the area of ​​Akjoujt copper mines were discovered and the place smelt copper (Lemdena). Were found not only large concentrations of slag, but also the remains of a furnace with the blower tubes. The finds date from the VI-V centuries. BC. Oe. Moorish center of the bronze industry was lying just off the southern tip of the western "road vehicle", which is directly connecting it to the same, but related to an earlier time, the center of industry in the south of Morocco.

The literature put forward an assumption about the relationship between the Moorish industry center and numerous burials and megalithic structures along the middle reaches of the Niger in the Gunda-Niafunke. To deny the possibility in principle of such a connection is not necessary. However, much closer to the areas along the ledge Akjoujt Dar Tishit in Mauritania, lying on a straight line between Akjoujt and the valley of Niger, the impact of the industry of bronze did not manifest. Archaeological discoveries late 70s and early 80s. make binding sites Kung District-dam-Niafunke soon with another center of civilization, unique throughout tropical Africa, as it features a well-developed tradition of urban life that has arisen before the beginning of our era.

It is about American archaeologists excavating Susan and Roderick Mac-Intosh in Djenne (Mali), launched in 1977 on a hill Doboro, 3 km from the city, were opened by the remains of settlements of urban type: discovered the ruins of the city wall and quarterly building with numerous traces of residential buildings. Jen-Jen (old Jenna) existence of evidence preserved in the district-developed metallurgy of iron and ceramic production. The city served as a center of trade between the active area of ​​the Upper Niger and the Sahel zone, as well as in the middle of the Niger Delta. Radiocarbon dating can take it back to the base of the III. BC. Oe., whereas traditionally it was thought that the city did not appear before the VIII century. Most importantly, the results of Mc-Intoshey given the opportunity to review and familiar views on the nature of exchanges in the region of the inner delta, as well as the reasons for the addition in the region of the first of the known structures of early-Saharan Africa – ancient Ghana.

In this respect, the Western Sudanese center of civilization is unique.