New PDF release: Africans: The History of a Continent (African Studies)

By John Iliffe

ISBN-10: 0521484227

ISBN-13: 9780521484220

This heritage of Africa from the origins of mankind to the South African common election of 1994 refocuses African heritage at the peopling of an environmentally antagonistic continent. The social, fiscal and political associations of the African continent have been designed to make sure survival and maximize numbers, yet within the context of clinical development and different twentieth-century techniques those associations have bred the main speedy inhabitants development the realm has ever noticeable. The heritage of the continent is therefore a unmarried tale binding residing Africans to the earliest human ancestors.

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That this may have developed into deliberate cultivation has been suggested especially for settlements in the middle Nile Valley around modern Khartoum, a summer-rainfall region where wheat and barley could not flourish and the dominant cereal was to be sorghum. By 8,000 years ago, people on the River Atbara, northeast of Khartoum, were collecting and grinding wild grass seeds. At Kadero, twenty kilometres north of Khartoum, a large settlement of the fifth millennium bc lived chiefly from cattle and great quantities of sorghum, to judge from grain-impressions on pottery and ‘tens of thousands of worn-out grindstones’.

Among the many gods of the Egyptian pantheon, the sun god was chiefly responsible for the maintenance of cosmological order and gradually gained preeminence. Early in the New Kingdom, the sun god became associated with an invisible and ubiquitous deity, Amun, around whom the priests at the great temple at Thebes began to construct a theology. Both drawing on this and reacting against it, the Pharaoh Akhenaten (1364–1347 bc) instituted a monotheistic state cult of the sun-disc (Aten), a worship of light to be approached only by sharing the king’s vision.

The world outside the Nile Valley was long seen as chaotic, the afterlife was imagined as the Field of Reeds, and any innovation had to be presented as a restoration of flawless antiquity. Although far more densely peopled than any other African region of the time, Old Kingdom Egypt was still an empty land, with perhaps only one or two million people, to judge from indications of the cultivated area. 1 percent a year, held down perhaps by the contraceptive effects of prolonged breastfeeding (of which there is evidence) and the high levels of mortality suggested by mortuary evidence and confirmed by later Roman census data, which show that in addition to appalling mortality before age 15, half of those surviving died in each subsequent decade.

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Africans: The History of a Continent (African Studies) by John Iliffe

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