In An African Classical Age, Christopher Ehret brings to light 1,400 years of social and economic transformation across Africa from Uganda and Kenya in the north to Natal and the Cape in the south. The book offers a much-needed portrait of this region during a crucial period in which basic features of precolonial African societies and cultures emerged.
Combining the most recent findings of archaeology and historical linguistics, the author demonstrates that, from 1000 B.C. through the fourth century A.D., eastern and southern African history was invigorated by technological change and intricately reshaped by the clash of distinctive cultures. Contrary to common presumption, he argues, Africans of this period were not isolated actors on their own historical stage, but direct and indirect participants in the major trends of contemporary world history, such as the Iron Age and the first great rise of long-distance commercial enterprise. In telling their important story, Ehret shows how powerful yet delicate a tool language evidence can be in detecting both the details and the long-term contours of the past.
The culmination of twenty-five years of research, this sweeping historical survey fundamentally challenges how we view the place not only of eastern and southern Africa, but of Africa as a whole, in the early eras of world history. Now available in paperback, An African Classical Age has become an essential resource for scholars of linguistics, archaeology, world history, and African studies.
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