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9: African History to 1500

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    • 9.1: Chronology
    • 9.2: Introduction
      Writing about the coast of East Africa, Duarte Barbosa paid little heed to the hundreds of years of Swahili history that preceded his visit. Therefore, his narrative gives us minimal information about Swahili civilization. This chapter will fill in some of the silences in the written historical record as it describes Africa’s major contributions to World History.
    • 9.3: Questions to Guide Your Reading
    • 9.4: Key Terms
    • 9.5: Writing the History of Ancient and Medieval Africa
    • 9.6: Aksum and Ethiopia
    • 9.7: The Western Sudanic States
    • 9.8: The Spread of Agriculture and Great Zimbabwe
      Most of the languages indigenous to Africa belong to one of the major language groups. Over the past several decades, historians of Africa have started to pay more attention to these language groups. They use comparisons of core vocabulary words in related languages to examine the spread of ancient technologies and the interaction between peoples. Using linguistics, historians corroborate information found in other sources, like oral traditions of dynastic origins and archaeological findings.
    • 9.9: The Swahili City-States (East Africa)
      As it controlled gold coming from Great Zimbabwe, Kilwa Kisiwani became one of the most prosperous of the Swahili city-states. From 1000 to 1500 CE, Swahili city-states were wealthy urban areas connected both to the African interior and the larger Indian Ocean World. Dozens of Swahili city-states running down the East African coast from Mogadishu to Sofala, and including islands off the coast, were commercial centers, tied together by a shared identity, not an overarching political structure.
    • 9.10: Conclusion
      The African states showcase the continent’s connections to the rest of the world, a multitude of African innovations, and the importance of using a variety of methodologies to interrogate long-held assumptions about Africa. Africa was not isolated. Instead, oceans and deserts were “highways” in these periods. Aksum, the Western Sudanic states, Great Zimbabwe, and the Swahili coast were all commercially linked to Europe, the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf, and even China.
    • 9.11: Works Consulted and Further Reading

    Thumbnail: The Aksum Obelisk) in Aksum (Tigray Region, Ethiopia). Image used wtih permission (CC BY 2.5 Generic; Ondřej Žváček via Wikipedia).

    This page titled 9: African History to 1500 is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Charlotte Miller (University System of Georgia via GALILEO Open Learning Materials) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.