Biggest cities in Sub Saharan Africa (500-1500)

Aug 2014
1,170
Portugal
If we are going to use different definitions than what is commonly used, it is deceptive not to tell the reader that fact, and gives a false impression, and it makes any comparison meaningless.

If Evora was only 11,000 and Mbanga Congo was a similar size according the Portuguese who visited it, and Mbanga was maybe the second largest city in Sub Saharan Africa, then the cities in Sub Saharan African at the time don't seem that big.
The 16th century authors I mentioned say:

size: 10 miles

Population: 100 000 inhabitants.

I don't think the numbers are 100% exact though.

If I remember right the ones who mentioned Evora, visited Mbanza Kongo in 1491. The description I posted is from 1578. This book from 16th is a very detailed description of the city, the kingdom, its provinces, culture, ethnicities and history. All through the eyes of two 16th century europeans.

What would make the Great Benin classified a city at all? Putting a wall around an area doesn't make all the area enclosed one city, anymore than the Great Wall of China means we should regard China as one supercity.

Having walls around a region does not make it a city.
What makes classic Athens or Uruk cities?
 
Mar 2017
41
Canada
Why is there an emphasis on cities South of the Equator? The Saharan cities listed above are very much African
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Why is there an emphasis on cities South of the Equator? The Saharan cities listed above are very much African
The cities of North Africa are part of the wider Mediterranean culture, linguistically, argiculturally, etc., having more in common with the other countries bordering the Mediterranean than with countries south of the Equator.

The Sahara is a transition zone, having ties to the Mediterranean culture in the north and rest of Africa south of the Sahara, but more in common with people and culture south of the Sahara, so they should be really included in Sub Sahara Africa.

The distinction is being made, because Africa north of the Sahara is quite different from south of the Sahara, ethnically, language, history, plants raised, live stock, and north Africa traditionally had more to do with the other countries around the Mediterranean than the rest of Africa further south, and still does for that matter. (Alexandria was one of the largest cities in the ancient world, located in Africa in Egypt, but was primarily populated by Greeks and Jews at the time. Although on the continent of Africa, it had more in common with cities like Constantinople/Instanbul in Asia, also at the time primarily Greek.).
 
May 2016
186
US
The cities of North Africa are part of the wider Mediterranean culture, linguistically, argiculturally, etc., having more in common with the other countries bordering the Mediterranean than with countries south of the Equator.

The Sahara is a transition zone, having ties to the Mediterranean culture in the north and rest of Africa south of the Sahara, but more in common with people and culture south of the Sahara, so they should be really included in Sub Sahara Africa.

The distinction is being made, because Africa north of the Sahara is quite different from south of the Sahara, ethnically, language, history, plants raised, live stock, and north Africa traditionally had more to do with the other countries around the Mediterranean than the rest of Africa further south, and still does for that matter. (Alexandria was one of the largest cities in the ancient world, located in Africa in Egypt, but was primarily populated by Greeks and Jews at the time. Although on the continent of Africa, it had more in common with cities like Constantinople/Instanbul in Asia, also at the time primarily Greek.).
Sub Saharan and south of the equator are two different things. They wondered why the emphasis was sub-equatorial not Sub Saharan. Many countries north of the equator do not border regions that border the Mediterranean nor showed heavy Mediterranean influence.
 
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Apr 2017
756
Lemuria
The cities of North Africa are part of the wider Mediterranean culture, linguistically, argiculturally, etc., having more in common with the other countries bordering the Mediterranean than with countries south of the Equator.

The Sahara is a transition zone, having ties to the Mediterranean culture in the north and rest of Africa south of the Sahara, but more in common with people and culture south of the Sahara, so they should be really included in Sub Sahara Africa.

The distinction is being made, because Africa north of the Sahara is quite different from south of the Sahara, ethnically, language, history, plants raised, live stock, and north Africa traditionally had more to do with the other countries around the Mediterranean than the rest of Africa further south, and still does for that matter. (Alexandria was one of the largest cities in the ancient world, located in Africa in Egypt, but was primarily populated by Greeks and Jews at the time. Although on the continent of Africa, it had more in common with cities like Constantinople/Instanbul in Asia, also at the time primarily Greek.).
Do you know where the equatorial line runs through the globe? No such thing as a Mediterranean culture that spans throughout North Africa, Ottoman empire and way deep into Africa up to the equator. Why not reverse your argument and say Southern Europe is part of a Middle Eastern civilization? And hence the Greek and Roman civilizations should not be considered European but Middle Eastern. Ironically, this is actually a legitimate argument to some extent.
Reading in between the lines, one can clearly see that you have an agenda. No shade of thought can escape someone like me, not even in writing.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Do you know where the equatorial line runs through the globe? No such thing as a Mediterranean culture that spans throughout North Africa, Ottoman empire and way deep into Africa up to the equator. Why not reverse your argument and say Southern Europe is part of a Middle Eastern civilization? And hence the Greek and Roman civilizations should not be considered European but Middle Eastern. Ironically, this is actually a legitimate argument to some extent.
Reading in between the lines, one can clearly see that you have an agenda. No shade of thought can escape someone like me, not even in writing.
No matter how you look at it, the Roman civilization is not Miiddle Eastern, but an European one. For one thing, the languages spoken there are a branch of IE to be found in Europe, not the Middle East. Romans and Greek gods have more in common with those of Europe, than the typical gods of the Middle East. And the Romans interacted with the peoples of Europe more than the Middle East, which is why many of the languages of Europe are descended from Latin and none of the Mdeast, Also the Ottomans never ruled "way deep into Africa". They controlled a few cities along the coast of Africa, but their rule did not extend into the hinter lands, hardly "way deep". The Ottoman main power base was in the lands around the Mediterranean and Europe, by no stretch could it be considered African. The British had a lot of possesions in Africa and India, but it doesn't mean that the the Bitish empire was "African".

My point was merely to explain why we make a distinction and talk of Sub Sahara Africa - cultural, agriculturally, Africa north ofthd Sahaea has more in common with the other cultures of the Mediterranean, more so than Africa. And historically, the interactions of North Africa were more with other cultures of the Mediterraneans. That is fact. The main plants they grew, their livestock had a Mediterranean Middle East origin. So the "Sub Sahara" distinction is not arbitrary, but has objective validity. You seem to be reading your own agenda into what I say.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Not might; he has a clear agenda.
If any one has the hidden agenda, it is you. My purpose was 2 fold, first, to show that we are not making an artificial and arbitrary distinction when we talk about Sub Saharan. Second, to show that it makes more sense to talk about Sub Saharan rather than Sub Equatorial Africa, which is an arbitrary distinction. If you bother to read all of what I wrote, you would have seen that, I was reply to someone who thought the thread should be Africa below the equator.

I suggest you take a little more time to read what someone wrote before replying.

(I did detour off on Alexandria, to show that geography isn't everything. What we really want to talk about is cultural distinctions, and geographical designations is just a convenient shorthand to make those distinctions. The entire purpose of this thread was to show that unlike what is commonly believed, Sub Sahara Africa did have cities, some of them quite large. )
 
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