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Old April 29th, 2016, 03:13 PM   #1

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Refuting the myth:Why Africa left behind no "civilizations"


Aye... I didn't even want to make this thread really, but I feel I had to clear things up, because the topic of "did Africa have any civilizations" is a popular talking point on here. And to be honest I am kinda getting tired of it.

Anyhow I'm not going to be talking about Ancient Egypt or Nubia because they are already well known. Also for this I will be focusing on architecture, because as Westerners that what we "scale" a civilization by.

Focusing on the interior of Africa, when people see that there are no fancy large lasting stone structures they come to the conclusion that most of Africa did not have any large kingdoms and was mostly primitive. Sure there are exceptions like Great Zimbabwe and the Swahili Coast, but those are the assumptions that people make.

The thing that people have to understand is that Africans in the interior and Sahel USED DIFFERENT building material compared to for example Europeans who mostly built in stone. Africans did not use long lasting building material. But instead temporary and perishable material. They were NOT permanent!

When Europeans first visited these African cities like Benin, they noted that they were quite large. For example here is Benin.
Click the image to open in full size.

^^Its quite large ain't? Well, that city is no longer there and is almost like it has vanished. Including the Benin Wall. Due to wars, but also not keeping up with the maintenance.

Another example...The capital of the Kongo Kingdom.
Click the image to open in full size.

They too built in material that was only temporary. And to make my point even more these suburbs if not maintained for at least 50 years would probably vanish like those African cities.
Click the image to open in full size.

This is the reason why cities like Timbuktu in West Africa most constantly maintain their mud infrastructure or else they too would vanish. And we all know Timbuktu, like those other Sahelien cities were all astonishing civilizations and their cities large during their heyday.

But to make my strong point many African cultures built large cities however very few of them were constructed by stone. In African cultures, large monuments and structures constructed of permanent and endurable material such as stone was built for spirits of the dead or the gods and meant to last for eternity, whereas large monuments and structures constructed for the living people were constructed of more temporary and perishable materials such as adobe (mud-brick) or wood.

And btw Ancient Egypt was NOT exempt from this. Virtually ALL cities in Egypt were constructed of 'mud-brick' and 'wood'. This is the reason why Egypt was popularly called by archaeologists a civilization 'without cities.' And yet many Africans built cities large and small with the same materials the Egyptians used and still most of Africa is deemed "without civilization..."
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Old April 29th, 2016, 06:54 PM   #2
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Thank you for this post. I have a feeling Africa was home to great civilizations in the past. And that is inclusive of west africa(nigeria). not just ancient egypt
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Old April 29th, 2016, 07:11 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RajputMaster24 View Post
Thank you for this post. I have a feeling Africa was home to great civilizations in the past. And that is inclusive of west africa(nigeria). not just ancient egypt


Indeed...
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Old April 29th, 2016, 07:30 PM   #4

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Why Africa did not have native "great empires"?

I guess this thread has answered quite a few questions.
If the qualification of a great empire is something larger than Northern Song Dynasty of China, not many empires will fit!
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Old April 29th, 2016, 07:58 PM   #5

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Why Africa did not have native "great empires"?

I guess this thread has answered quite a few questions.
If the qualification of a great empire is something larger than Northern Song Dynasty of China, not many empires will fit!

Actually that thread was just one of the many threads this thread was responding to. The Songhai Empire was already larger than most of western Europe. And going by your logic most of Europe wouldn't have "great empires" as most(excluding Rome) weren't Chinese dynasties, Persian Empires, Indian empires size in antiquity or medieval period. Nor were they even the size of Mali.

So I don't know WHY in you're thread you said Songhai was "too small".
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Old April 29th, 2016, 08:46 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Son Of RA View Post
Actually that thread was just one of the many threads this thread was responding to. The Songhai Empire was already larger than most of western Europe. And going by your logic most of Europe wouldn't have "great empires" as most(excluding Rome) weren't Chinese dynasties, Persian Empires, Indian empires size in antiquity or medieval period. Nor were they even the size of Mali.

So I don't know WHY in you're thread you said Songhai was "too small".
I mean that Songhai was one of the largest native African empire, but it wasn't as big as some of the large empires we have witnessed in Eurasia.
What exactly constraint its growth?
I listen to Mbari (thumb piano) and Kora, both are African instruments.
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Old April 29th, 2016, 08:53 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Son Of RA View Post
Actually that thread was just one of the many threads this thread was responding to. The Songhai Empire was already larger than most of western Europe. And going by your logic most of Europe wouldn't have "great empires" as most(excluding Rome) weren't Chinese dynasties, Persian Empires, Indian empires size in antiquity or medieval period. Nor were they even the size of Mali.

So I don't know WHY in you're thread you said Songhai was "too small".
Songhai might be the largest native African empire, but it was considerably smaller than many other empires.
I was trying to interpret the size of the Songhai Empire.
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Old April 29th, 2016, 11:49 PM   #8

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I take the occasion offered by this thread to agree with the premises [Western historiography tends to expect that our model of civilization is the only one possible, so that a civilization which doesn't build palaces and bridges that last centuries or millenniums ... that's not a great civilization!].

And to underline something about ancient African civilizations.

Plural ... since KmT, Ancient Egypt wasn't the only one ancient African civilization. While along the river Nile the Pharaoh of the Third Intermediate Period were ruling on their country, around X century BCE, in modern Nigeria, an other advanced civilization was appearing. And it would have lasted at least until III century CE as great entity, then it declined.

The "Nok".

The Nok civilization presented advanced social structures [judicial system included] and archaeological finds demonstrate that they realized good iron weaponry. The impressive artistic production [you can see it here:Mémoire d'Afrique - Nok - Public gallery , the site offers also a good introduction to the reality of the civilization].

A note: since they didn't left written documentations about their own identity, the original name of the "Nok" is unknown.
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Old April 30th, 2016, 03:12 PM   #9

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The Soninke were building in stone in what is now south-central Mauritania thousands of years ago.
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Old May 1st, 2016, 04:21 AM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by VHS View Post
Songhai might be the largest native African empire, but it was considerably smaller than many other empires.
I was trying to interpret the size of the Songhai Empire.
Not that many empire's contemporary with Songhai were bigger, to be honest. It was bigger than most contemporary European empire's for sure.
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