Biggest cities in Sub Saharan Africa (500-1500)

May 2016
186
US
Now, trying to acuse me of stupid things just because of talking about south of the equator? Are south Afrivan cultures the same as in the north?
Above the equator doesn't necessarily mean North African like you just stated. But maybe you made a mistake there. As I thought we both agreed before, there's a lot of Sub Saharan Africa above the equator. That said I understand wanting to specifically learn about southern African cities, but the way you went about it is curious.

This statement I'm making below isn't necessarily for you, it's more in reference to Bart Dale's statements and many people who think along the same lines as he that are on this very site and all over the the internet.

It's always interesting how the slightest outside influence leads many to believe an Sub Saharan African civilization isn't quite African enough for them, but don't feel that way about other civilizations. Others can constantly have influence from outsiders, but they're still considered undeniably European or Arabian or Indian and so on. Interesting...
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,088
Canary Islands-Spain
In Spanish, we call that "autochtonism", for opposition to diffusionism. Maybe a similar English word is radical indigenism, I'm not sure.

Everything is the product of inner process.

This is almost impossible, with very few exceptions. Also in the case of Africa, the issue is not only outside influences, but specifically classical civilizations influence in sub-Saharan cultures.

If I divide Africa in sectors, in my opinion the degree of fully integration into mainstream cultures of the world would be from most to lesser, by 1500:

*Northeast Africa: 1
*Northwest Africa: 2
*Horn of Africa: 3
*West Africa north of Equator: 4
*South-east Africa south of Equator: 5
*South-west Africa south of Equator: 6
 
Apr 2017
722
Lemuria
Nothing exists in a vacuum. No civilization on earth arose without outside influence. Prehistory is still a mysterious topic. The key characteristics of humanity is the ability to learn and accumulate knowledge throughout generations.

It's important that no generalization be made and all agenda kept in check for proper evaluation.
 
Jan 2014
1,747
Portugal
Ok. I agree that Southern cities had influence of the North. Obviously.
This was all a huge mess, fuelled by roses racism.

Back to the topic: anybody wants to list southern cities?
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,088
Canary Islands-Spain
The very first city we know about south of the Equator is Raphta, which localization is uncertain. The city is described in "Peryplus of the Erithraen Sea", the information dating the 1st century AD.

Let me do some notes https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/periplus.asp

14. The voyage to all these farside market-towns is made from Egypt about the month of July, that is Epiphi. And ships are also customarily fitted out from the places across this sea, from Ariaca and Barygaza, bringing to these far-side market-towns the products of their own places; wheat, rice, clarified butter, sesame oil, cotton cloth, (the monache and the sagmatogene), and girdles, and honey from the reed called sacchari. Some make the voyage especially to these market-towns, and others exchange their cargoes while sailing along the coast. This country is not subject to a King, but each market-town is ruled by its separate chief.

15. Beyond Opone (note: Hafun, Somalia), the shore trending more toward the south, first there are the small and great bluffs of Azania; this coast is destitute of harbors, but there are places where ships can lie at anchor, the shore being abrupt; and this course is of six days, the direction being south-west. Then come the small and great beach for another six days' course and after that in order, the Courses of Azania, the first being called Sarapion (note: Mogadishu, Somalia) and the next Nicon (note: Port Dunford, Somalia); and after that several rivers and other anchorages, one after the other, separately a rest and a run for each day, seven in all, until the Pyralax islands and what is called the channel; beyond which, a little to the south of south-west, after two courses of a day and night along the Ausanitic coast, is the island Menuthias (note: Zanzibar?), about three hundred stadia from the mainland, low and and wooded, in which there are rivers and many kinds of birds and the mountain-tortoise. There are no wild beasts except the crocodiles; but there they do not attack men. In this place there are sewed boats, and canoes hollowed from single logs, which they use for fishing and catching tortoise. In this island they also catch them in a peculiar wav, in wicker baskets, which they fasten across the channel-opening between the breakers.

16. Two days' sail beyond, there lies the very last market-town of the continent of Azania, which is called Rhapta; which has its name from the sewed boats (rhapton ploiarion) already mentioned; in which there is ivory in great quantity, and tortoise-shell. Along this coast live men of piratical habits, very great in stature, and under separate chiefs for each place. The Mapharitic chief (note: Ma'afir = southwest Yemen) governs it under some ancient right that subjects it to the sovereignty of the state that is become first in Arabia. And the people of Muza (note: Mocha, Yemen) now hold it under his authority, and send thither many large ships; using Arab captains and agents, who are familiar with the natives and intermarry with them, and who know the whole coast and understand the language.
 
Jan 2014
1,747
Portugal
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea seems like a good source, but after a short research it seems more focused on other cities trough the Indian Ocean.

I was looking to find some cities in todays territory of Mozambique, but even pre-colonial historiography gets to focused in trade routes to the north, ignoring urbanization and political organization.
 
Mar 2017
41
Canada
I'll repeat the list posted earlier.
Tichitt
Oulata
Oudande
Chinguetti
Audoghost
Timbuktu
Djenne Djenno
(Dala) Kano
Benin
NGazargamo
Ihebu Ode
Addis Adaba
Barara
Njimi
Kumbi Saleh
Kangaba
Niani

Adding:
Foumban
Agadez
Gao
Kano City-States
Zaria
Zinder

These are Saharan cities; and Africans have historically lived here as well.
When you claim that North Africa is historically Mediterranean, what time in history do you start your analysis? Because we know, linguistically North Africans speak Afro-Asiatic and Nilo-Saharan Languages which are East-African in origin. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afroasiatic_languages]



Mauretania, Mali, Chad, Niger, Sudan and to some extent, Southern Algeria, Morocco and Libya have all been historically populated by Africans. The areas most influenced by the Mediterranean would be the coastal cities of Tripoli, Alexandria, Cairo, Tunis, Casablanca and quite possibly Marrakesh



The Sahara isn't this big great barrier that people always claim it to be, there were civilizations living there before its expansion [Garamantes, Kanem-Bornu etc]. And there is still trade that occurred in the region till the middle-ages.
 
Last edited:

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,628
Benin City, Nigeria
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea seems like a good source, but after a short research it seems more focused on other cities trough the Indian Ocean.

I was looking to find some cities in todays territory of Mozambique, but even pre-colonial historiography gets to focused in trade routes to the north, ignoring urbanization and political organization.
I can recommend the book East Africa by Malyn Newitt. It has a lot of information about Mozambique as it was described centuries ago.

https://www.amazon.com/Africa-Portuguese-Encounters-World-Discoveries/dp/0754601811
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,628
Benin City, Nigeria
I'll repeat the list posted earlier.
Tichitt
Oulata
Oudande
Chinguetti
Audoghost
Timbuktu
Djenne Djenno
(Dala) Kano
Benin
NGazargamo
Ihebu Ode
Addis Adaba
Barara
Njimi
Kumbi Saleh
Kangaba
Niani

Adding:
Foumban
Agadez
Gao
Kano City-States
Zaria
Zinder

These are Saharan cities; and Africans have historically lived here as well.

(. . .)
Several of these are below the Sahara, not Saharan. Ijebu Ode, for example, is nearly at the coast.
 
Last edited:

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,886
Portugal
I can recommend the book East Africa by Malyn Newitt. It has a lot of information about Mozambique as it was described centuries ago.

https://www.amazon.com/Africa-Portuguese-Encounters-World-Discoveries/dp/0754601811
Sorry, probably a bit out of topic, but here it goes a question:

I never had the opportunity to read Malyn Newitt and although I know that he has an extensive work about the Portuguese empire and the post colonial period, I rarely saw him quoted. I don’t even know if he was translated to Portuguese, which is curious since so many of his works could be sold in Portugal.

Anyway at Amazon it is stated “The Portuguese appear to have been the first European visitors to encounter East Africa, with the arrival of a lone traveller, Pero da Covilham, in c.1491. Covilham left no account of his experiences, so Vasco da Gama had little idea of what to expect when he led his first voyage to the region in 1497.”

Does Newitt really states in the book that “Vasco da Gama had little idea of what to expect when he led his first voyage to the region in 1497”, or is just one of those sentences written by the publisher? I am saying this because Pêro da Covilhã sent at least a report to D. João II by the Jew José from Lamego. We don’t know if the report really reached D. João II, even if we have tips that can lead to that hypothesis. But if it did, that report or any other from agents sent to the East by land, we can assume that Vasco da Gama had some information about the trade in the Indian Ocean. After all he went directly to Calicut after leaving Africa. This could be to previous information or due the information gathered in Africa, in the voyage. What is Newitt perspective?