* Plateau: a relatively high, flat land areas
* Savanna: broad grassland dotted with small trees and shrubs Define:
* Griot: a special class of African storytellers who help keep alive a people’s history * Subsistence Farming: the practice of growing just enough crops for personal use, not for sale * Matrilineal: tracing lineage through the mother rather than the father * Patrilineal: tracing lineage through the father
Know the basics of these cultures:
Zimbabwe: From about 1300 to about 1450, Zimbabwe was the wealthiest and most powerful state in the region. It prospered from the gold trade with the Swahili trading communities on the eastern coast of Africa. Indeed, Zimbabwe’s gold ended up in the court of Kublai Khan, emperor of China. The ruins of Zimbabwe’s capital, known as Great Zimbabwe, illustrate the kingdom’s power and influence. The town sits on a hill overlooking the Zambezi River and is surrounded by stone walls. Ten thousand residents would have been able to live in the area enclosed by the walls. Artifacts found by at the site include household implements, ornaments made of gold and copper, and porcelain imported from China. The Great Enclosure, whose exact purpose is not known, dominated the site. It was an oval space surrounded by a wall 800 feet long, 17 feet thick, and 32 feet high (about 244 m long, 5 m thick, and 10 m high). Near the Great Enclosure were smaller walled enclosures that contained round houses built of a mudlike cement on stone foundations. In the valley below was the royal palace, surrounded by a high stone wall. The massive walls of Great Zimbabwe are unusual. The local people stacked granite blocks together without mortar to build the walls. By the middle of the 15th century, however, the city was abandoned, possibly because of damage to the land through over-grazing or natural disasters such as droughts and crop failures.
Kush: By 2000 b.c., a busy trade had arisen between Egypt and the area to the south known as Nubia. Egyptian merchants traveled to Nubia to obtain ivory, ebony, frankincense (a fragrant tree resin), and leopard skins. Although Nubia was subject to Egyptian control for many centuries, it freed itself around 1000 b.c. and became the independent state of Kush. In 750 b.c., Kush conquered Egypt. In 663 b.c., however, the Kushites, who were still using bronze and stone weapons, were overwhelmed by the Assyrians, who were armed with iron spears and swords. The Kushites, driven out of Egypt, returned to their original lands in the upper Nile valley. The economy of Kush was based on farming at first. Kush soon emerged, however, as one of the major trading states in the region, with its center at the city of Meroe. Meroe was located where a newly opened land route across the desert to the north crossed the Nile. Meroe had abundant iron ore resources. Having learned iron ore smelting from the Assyrians, the Kushites made iron weapons and tools. For the next several hundred years, Kush was a major trading empire. Kush provided iron products, ivory, gold, ebony, and slaves from central and eastern Africa to the Roman Empire, Arabia, and India. In return, the Kushites received luxury goods from India and Arabia. It seems likely that Kushite society was mostly urban. At first, state authorities probably controlled foreign trade. Extensive luxury goods found in private tombs indicate that material prosperity was relatively widespread.
Axum: Kush flourished from about 250 b.c. to about a.d. 150 but declined because of the rise of Axum. Locate in what is now Ethiopia, Axum was founded by Arabs and combined Arab and African cultures. Axum owed its prosperity to its location along the Red Sea, on the trade route between India and the Mediterranean. Axum exported ivory, frankincense, myrrh, and slaves. It imported textiles, metal goods, wine, and olive oil. For a time, Axum competed with the neighboring state of...
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