Evidence of African civilizations

Jan 2019
Development in Ethiopia dates back to the Gash group culture, which had trade connections with the Nile Valley
The Gash culture was said to be related to the C-group culture, which was said to speak a Berber language. The Yemenite root of later Ethiopian civilization is a well-known fact and it would be disingenous to ignore it.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
Benin City, Nigeria
The problem here, is that Edo people are simply not Yoruba or Igbo, but only related to them. It makes thus absolutely no sense to use them as an argument against the idea that Edo people learned metallurgy from the Portuguese.
You don't get it.

The Edo themselves had political connections to other groups in the region, it is not simply that they are ethnically related.

A bronze sculpture from the Yoruba area or in the Ife style, was already found in Benin, during an excavation, and it was dated to before the Portuguese arrival.

Furthermore, the earliest bronze artifacts from Benin (which aren't sculptures, but a set of bracelets, rings, and similar objects - these are mentioned in the book The Art of Benin (1980)) predate the Portuguese arrival. They date from the 13th century.

But you're clearly not familiar with the political connections which the Benin/Edo had with their neighbors for you to think that it "makes no sense" to think they learned from their neighbors. You've clearly read almost nothing at all about the state (Benin).

Anyway, here is an excerpt from the book "Antiquities from the city of Benin and from other parts of West Africa in the British Museum", by Charles Hercules Read and Ormonde Maddock Dalton :
You're quoting a book written in 1899 by people who had no access to any credible information (and who were pretty biased against the culture anyway). Rowland knew nothing about the actual origin of brass casting, he just figured out (correctly) that Benin was able to get a lot of the metal from trade with Europeans.

If this is about the origin of the metal itself, if you're talking about trade, the Portuguese (and other Europeans) definitely greatly increased the amount of raw material available, but that's not the same thing as teaching the metallurgy or the brass/bronze casting.

Furthermore, the earliest bronzes have a different composition actually, and sourced their material from elsewhere, probably somewhere else in Africa the way Igbo Ukwu's bronze casters did. This is discussed in the book Benin: Kings and Rituals (2007) in the chapter that discusses the composition and origin of the metals used in the bronzes.

Anyway, the whole idea that they learned bronze/brass casting from the Portuguese rather than from the groups of people that were right next to them (the Edo are literally right between the Yoruba and the Igbo, geographically) that had been doing it for centuries is completely idiotic.
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Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
Benin City, Nigeria
The Gash culture was said to be related to the C-group culture, which was said to speak a Berber language. The Yemenite root of later Ethiopian civilization is a well-known fact and it would be disingenous to ignore it.
"Said to be related to"? They were in trade contact with them. If you really want to understand the development of early urbanism in Ethiopia, you should read this:


Rodolfo Fattovich - "The development of urbanism in the northern Horn of Africa in ancient and medieval times"
Feb 2018
What English books or primary sources would be recommended for intra-African wars and Empire building? I must admit I'm not really sure where to start for sources or even areas/kingdoms. These threads really help with learning about who ruled well and who made advancements, but I'm curious about various African solutions in warfare. Who were the some of the best to learn from, beyond 19th century Ethiopia? Since Ethiopia was geographically able to be in contact with Egypt and later the Arabic Muslim Empires, I always wondered what stopped them from forming a vast eastern African empire with superior resources and learning. I also was curious if the Imerina Kingdom ever invaded the mainland, or were they just content on Madagascar since they had no real rival?

From reading about Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck's campaign in the Great Lakes region, it certainly seemed like he was able to work effectively with the Askaris and incorporate them into a very competent force. I wonder if there are other examples like this.

In posts here and in the other thread, it seems like Africa had different malaria-based problems than Southeast Asia? Southeast Asia was basically uninvadable before the 20th century, even ignoring terrain, because malaria and tropical disease and humidity would decimate northern armies. It didn't matter whether it was the Chinese, Mongols, Manchus, or Mughals, they go south and their army becomes debilitated and they can't maneuver or fight properly. But that didn't stop the SEA kingdoms from still forming empires against each other, possibly because they were mostly immune or resistant to those diseases? They weren't great by Eurasian standards, but Bayinnaung at least certainly proved what one outlier could do. Did Africa have different types of disease problems that limited intra-African expansion?


Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
Benin City, Nigeria
I'm very serious. What you just did is the equivalent of saying "sub-Saharans didn't domesticate a lot of cattles because of a fly(tsetse)?" as if saying that was ridiculous. This is a superficial statements that looks at things simplistically to then give the impression that a very reasonable statement is ridiculous

Without the proto-malagasy much of Eastern Africa would be semi-nomadic into colonial times. The bananas caused a population growth, which eventually led to the formation of those states. It was also a huge factor for the Bantu expansion :
This is interesting, but also looks like speculation if one is referring specifically to the formation of those states. If that was all that it took, then not only those groups should have formed states, but all the other south east Africans that cultivated bananas should have formed such states.

I'm looking at the timelines of when the banana was introduced to the area, and when those states were in existence, and I don't see why those states were not formed much earlier if the cultivation of the banana was the reason, and I also don't see a clear explanation for why only the groups that did form kingdoms did so, while others remained basically stateless, living in acephalous societies. If one is talking specifically about state formation then this explanation doesn't really add up.

Edit: Also, semi-nomadic groups can form states; this wouldn't be sedentary civilization in the manner that most people idealize or admire, but it would still be a state nonetheless. In fact one of the kingdoms/states formed near the Sahara in the central Sudan was semi-nomadic for a long time.
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Jan 2016
United States, MO
What people are doing in this thread, is the equivalent of crediting the Khoisan people for the construction of the Castle of Good Hope in South Africa. Most of these structures are not the result of indigenous sub-Saharan development, and are instead off-shoots from other cultures and peoples.

The Scramble of Africa was far from being the first colonization of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Arabs, Berbers, and Afro-Asiatics from the Middle East, North Africa, Chad and North-Eastern Africa all colonized parts of sub-Saharan Africa and built these structures. Crediting Niger-Congo for these civilizations is like crediting Shona people for Rhodesia.

Let me break this down quickly.

First, in the prehistoric era, at a time when the concept of society was unknown in Africa, when every sub-Saharan tribe on earth was still paleolithic, the Natufians came in starting around 25,000 years ago, and they eventually settled the Nile and began to form complex Neolithic societies in the Nile Valley. The ethnic Natufians were the founding populations of ancient Egypt and Nubia, and they alone brought agriculture into Africa, along with their burial traditions and their complex ideological thoughts, etc...

They brought the stone-age Sub-Saharan people all the technology of early civilization. All of the earliest domesticated crops and animals are associated with Natufians in Africa, and not with Sub-Saharan people.

Although ancient Nubia wasn’t built or ruled by Sub-Saharans, they eventually had a substantial black population. The earliest pastoralist Blacks show up in the fossil record around 3000 BC in the Sudd Marshlands. Of course the ancient kingdoms of Egypt and Nubia brought all kinds of new technology and opportunity for the Nilotes who had largely come up from the Sudd. Unfortunately, the Nile Valley people of Natufian lineage were also the first outside ethnic group to begin to enslave Sub-Saharan people in large numbers. Sub-Saharan slaves were sometimes captured in battles, and they were also traded for manufactured goods and weapons. There’s even proof the Egyptians branded their slaves. Most everyone is very familiar with the contributions of ancient Egyptian and Nubian culture, and their effect they had on the surrounding Sub-Saharan populations of the region.

The Yemenite Arab Sabaeans were the one responsible for development in Ethiopia. I'm not going to make too much explanations here

The Berbers from the Maghreb are responsible for the development of West Africa.

The Berbers had a Natufian and Caspian ethnic heritage, with some infinitesimal traces of very ancient Sub-Saharan, probably not even enough to show up in an autosomal test, they were white-skinned people. The Carthaginians even domesticated the African elephant and then used it in war. After the Berbers were conquered by Muslim Arabs, and after they converted to Islam, the Tuareg Berbers built a trade route into West Africa, and they taught some of the blacks Arabic. They built a few towns, they built Timbuktu, and they set up Islamic schools, and it was the first time in history where sub-Saharan people were literate . This led to the first confirmed authentically ethnic Sub-Saharan written manuscripts. This was called the Ghana Empire. This Berber education eventually led to a black takeover. Due to their sheer overwhelming force of numbers, as opposed to military skill, they were able to overtake the Berbers. When the blacks overthrew The Berbers and took control of Timbuktu, this was called the Mali Empire. It’s the first authentic black-ruled empire in history. The Berbers had actually built Timbuktu to escape the Mali Empire, but the city was eventually taken over by that genuinely Sub-Saharan Mali empire anyway. The Mali empire arose from the knowledge that Sub-Saharan people gained from the Tuaregs. It was an Islamic empire, and the scholars, the merchants, and the majority of the other men of great renown continued to be of Berber and Arab ethnic stock, even though it had become a Sub-Saharan ruled empire.

In South-Eastern Africa, the input didn't come from the Berbers, Yemenite or Natufians, but from Asian people from Indonesia. The people of Indonesia were able to construct boats, something that South-Eastern African people didn't accomplish, to sail and discover the Islands of Madagascar well before the Bantu people,(it is worth noting that the Bantu people were sitting right next to those Islands while the Indonesian people were millions of kilometers away from them). The people of Madagascar introduced South-Eastern Africans to the cultivation of banana, and to the Indonesian concept of centralized state. It helped them to create states like Buganda and Bunyoro, as well as other smaller states in the Great Lakes region of South-Eastern Africa. Other than this, the South-Eastern African people also benefited from the input of the Cushites from North-Eastern Africa, as evidenced by the Kingdom of Rwanda, where the more "Hamitic" Tutsi were ruling over the more "Bantu" Hutus for centuries.

And finally, came the Europeans. They introduced the sub-Saharan people to the Latin alphabet, taught them how to cultivate maize, cocoa, and other crops, and introduced them to the concept of capitalism and democracy. The Portuguese taught the people of Benin the concept of bronze metallurgy, which helped them to develop the now well-known sculptures that they produced.

All in all, sub-Saharan ethnic indigenous civilizations are almost non-existent. All examples of sub-Saharan development emerged because of "colonialism", it was just not always by the same people. Sub-Saharans are still colonized by Berbers in countries like Mauritania.

People need to stop being Afrocentric and crediting Niger-Congo speaking people for the achievements of Afro-Asiatics, Berbers and Indonesians. Niger-Congo people didn't build a single civilization, they were "colonized". Colonization is not a bad thing at all, and was the main reason for the development of the sub-Saharan African people in most cases.
You know, all european writing systems currently in use originate from the near east. In fact, so did christianity. Europe is basically an extension of Near Eastern civilization. There are no European acheivements because their writing system got to them from Asia (the minor exception being the Minoans, but their script didn’t spread very far.) Even the greek alphabet has its roots in Asia, so all european acheivement is actually near eastern acheivement.

If it sounds like I am being extreme, you would never guess where I got this kind of thinking from.