Urbanization and State Formation in African Civilizations Essay

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Denielle Barcelona ANTHRO 102A December 10, 2010 Urbanization and State Formation in African Civilizations: When it comes to talking about the ancient African civilizations, both Africans and those who spent their lives studying Africa are aware of how complex and diverse the African precolonial societies really were. However, some still surmise that complex societies failed to develop there, and if there are some that did, they were merely secondary states.1 In the book African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective, author Graham Connah endeavors to disprove them and asserts that the tropical Africans established (non-secondary) complex states on their own and not because of external factors, that “neither…show more content…
Connah says that compared to the lowlands, the Ethiopian highlands were “healthier, and had better soils and had a greater range of possible agricultural adaptations, providing, therefore, a fertile seedbed for the growth of social complexity.”7 In talking about the West African savanna, he mentions how the emergence of urbanism and political centralization was thought before to be because of contact with the Mediterranean world via long-distance trade. However, because of archaeological evidence, Connah is able to assert that even before Arab contact, “stratified societies were emerging in the West African savanna on the basis of resource control stimulated in part by localized population pressure.”8 His theory of extensive internal trade giving rise to urbanization and state formation also is not clear at times. Because of how he formatted the book, it was much easier to make a comparative analysis of the states he discusses. First, he gives a 6 Connah, Graham. African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987. pg. 295 7 Connah, Graham. African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987. pg. 107 8 Connah, Graham. African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987. pg. 143 3 description of the local environment, and then he goes on to give
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