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Lecture 1

HIST 2061 Lecture 1: African Civilizations

Course Code
HIST 2061

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African Civilization
I. Sources
A. Primary (time and space)
1. Document or object contemporary to the subject of study
B. Secondary
1. Document or object that analyzes or interprets primary sources
II. African Civilizations
A. Culture
1. “Not what you are but what you do”
2. Customary beliefs, social norms, and material traits of a racial, religious,
or social group; the characteristic features of everyday existence shared by
people in a place or time
3. Dynamic
4. It exists in direct relations to the material circumstances of the the
individual who produce and participate in it
B. Central points
1. Some of the oldest most complex cultures in history are African and they
are fluid and dynamic
2. Shared material circumstances lead to shared cultures
III. African Geography
A. Sahara Desert
1. Limited contact (Mediterranean and Asia)
B. Sahel
1. Shore or coast
2. semi-desert
C. Savannah
1. Grassland from Ethiopia (East) to the Atlantic (West)
IV. West African Civilizations
A. Records and history
1. Climate
2. Archaeology
a) Iron work
(1) 500 BCE
3. Trade and commerce on the Savannah and across the Savannah
B. Ancient Ghana
1. Founded by the Soninke people
a) Some converted to Islam
2. Records were kept by Arab merchants in the 8th century
3. During war they used iron weapons
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4. They sold pepper, slaves, and gold and traded for salt, dates, and nuts
a) Trade increased across the Sahara as they used Asian camels
b) Northern and Western Africa traded with Asia and the Arabs
c) GOLD was the most important export
(1) Gold was taxed to accumulate more wealth
5. Ghana became a Muslim bureaucracy
a) The Arabs dominated because they knew how to write
6. Kumbi Saleh
a) Capital of Ghana
7. Fall of Ancient Ghana
a) Ghana’s army captured Almoravid in 992, which was a trade
center north of the capital
b) The people of Almoravid retaliated and captured Ghana in 1076
c) The Almoravid people lost Ghana to the Soninke people in 1087
CE but Ghana was conquered again by the Sosso people
C. Mali (1230 - 1488 CE)
1. Founded by the Mandinka people and was ruled by Sundiata
2. In 1235 CE Sundiata and his army defeated the Sosso people in the Battle
of Kinna
a) Mali succeeded Ghana after this battle
b) Cultural overlap, material circumstances, and race
3. Mende
a) “Where the emperor resides”
4. Commerce & Gold Production
a) Niani & Wangara
(1) Capital of Mali
(2) Population 8 million
(3) Mali was able to produce more food moving South making
them wealthier than Ghana
5. Islam & Magic
a) Indigenous religion
6. Timbuktu (11th century)
a) Trade and Islamic writing
(1) Gold, slaves, and salt
(2) Renowned for cultural and religious acceptance
7. Mansa Musa (1312-1337 CE)
a) Became the new leader of Mali
b) Made the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) in 1324 which made him
world famous
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