African Connections: Archaeological Perspectives on Africa and the Wider World (African Archaeology Series)
From the exodus of early modern humans to the growth of African diasporas, Africa has had a long and complex relationship with the outside world. More than a passive vessel manipulated by external empires, the African experience has been a complex mix of internal geographic, environmental, sociopolitical and economic factors, and regular interaction with outsiders. Peter Mitchell attempts to outline these factors over the long period of modern human history, to find their commonalities and development over time. He examines African interconnections through Egypt and Nubia with the Near East,through multiple Indian Ocean trading systems, through the trans-Saharan trade, and through more recent incursion of Europeans. The African diaspora is also explored for continuities and resistance to foreign domination. Commonalities abound in the African experience, as do complexities of each individual period and interrelationship. Mitchell's sweeping analysis of African connections place the continent in context of global prehistory and history. The book should be of interest not only to Africanists, but to many other archaeologists, historians, geographers, linguists, social scientists and their students.
Napoleonic Wars, but left Reunion, with its geostrategically weaker position and lack of a good harbor, to France. Figure 7.6. The western Indian Ocean: location of places and sites discussed in the text. The absence of indigenous inhabitants meant that European settlers had to look elsewhere for a pliant labor force. They found it in Africa, with some 45 percent of slaves, as well as foodstuffs like rice and meat, coming from Madagascar, and some 40 percent from the East African
exotic, the distant, even the (originally) extracontinental (Sherratt 1995). Thirdly, we should critically reassess our use of the “ethnographic present” as a basis for understanding the archaeological past. Those African societies studied by anthropologists have been formed through a long-extended historical process that, for most of them and especially over the last several centuries, has involved the working out of the consequences of Africa’s connections with other continents. Whether in
continent. How far they should be held responsible for the growth of complex societies farther inland is another issue, along with the disruption and transformation of older trading systems after European entry into the Indian Ocean in 1498. Islam and trading systems intimately associated with its spread are not just a feature of Africa’s eastern shores. Indeed, if the Red Sea is a gateway to the Indian Ocean then it also bisects one of the world’s great deserts, which stretches from the arid
stretch of the coast was historically rich in elephants, mangrove forests, and ambergris and offered reliable monsoons for navigating across the Indian Ocean. Mangrove wood, much in demand in the Gulf as a building material, was extensively used at Siraf in the ninth and tenth centuries (Horton and Middleton 2000, 76). According to al-Mas’udi, ivory, on the other hand, was largely directed via Oman to India and China, whereas other exports included rhinoceros horn, then as now shamelessly used as
merchants when the two Iberian monarchies united in 1580 stimulated the growth of slave exports from Angola in particular (J. C. Miller 2002). Other Europeans, notably the English and French, who established colonies in the Americas in the seventeenth century initially depended on indentured laborers. Recruited from within their own nation-states (and from Ireland and Scotland too for the English colonies), such workers were cheaper than purchased slaves. However, as the wages paid them rose and