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African DominionA New History of Empire in Early and Medieval West Africa$
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Michael A. Gomez

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196824

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196824.001.0001

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The Middle Niger in Pre-Antiquity and Global Context

The Middle Niger in Pre-Antiquity and Global Context

Chapter:
(p.11) Chapter One The Middle Niger in Pre-Antiquity and Global Context
Source:
African Dominion
Author(s):

Michael A. Gomez

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691196824.003.0002

This chapter discusses the consistent omission of early and medieval Africa in world and imperial histories. West Africa is certainly left out of the narrative of early human endeavor, and only tends to be mentioned, with brevity, in conjunction with European imperialism. Nevertheless, substantial archaeological work has been underway in West Africa for decades, particularly in the middle Niger valley. For it was during the period of the Shang, Chou, Shin, Han, and Tang dynasties of China, the Vedic period in India, and the Mayans in central America, that another urban-based civilization flourished in West Africa, in the Middle Niger region. The chapter then considers the history of civilization in the Middle Niger, which is a study of the multiple ways in which communities continually adjust to and engage with one of the more “variable and unpredictable” environments in the world. Indeed, the story of the Middle Niger connects directly with the celestial preoccupations of big history in that much of its climatic variability is explained by slight alterations in solar radiation, produced in turn by the intricacies of the sun's cyclical patterns.

Keywords:   medieval Africa, West Africa, Middle Niger, urban-based civilization, civilization, communities, climate

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