> [!info] Metadata > - Real Title:: The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800 > - Author:: Christopher Ehret > - Via:: University of Virginia Press > - Publication Date:: 2012 (originally 2002?) > - ISBN:: 081392880X / 9780813928807 > [!summary] Reflections > - 2021-02-04: I read a bunch of chapters of [[The Civilizations of Africa by Christopher Ehret]] at the YMCA and then while Max played with his books. My brain is basically exploding from all of it but the most important thing I read was definitely the "Commercial Revolution" being more of a game-changer than the dissemination of iron tools. ## Highlights ## ch01 Introducing Africa and Its History ### ch01p10 How People Got Their Food <blockquote class=paraphrase>How people get daily sustenance can divide the world into food-collecting and food-producing economies. </blockquote> Framing things this way might be useful for the [[Alternatives to Money]] article stem. > People in many different parts of the world brought into being innovative new systems of gathering and hunting. The greater productivity of these systems commonly led to the spread of the cultures associated with them. Is a good example of this in the [[Infrastructure in Ancient Civilizations]] article I wrote, about how the ancients near Jericho used giant walls shaped like fish weirs (called kites) to "herd" animals by stampeding them into walls that then trapped them for easy slaughter? ### ch01p12 Themes in Social and Political History > Like governments everywhere, kingdoms in Africa rested on two conceptual pillars: > * legitimacy: a set of accepted ideas and institutions that justified kingship in the eyes of the people > * material basis that could adequately support the governing stratum of society (i.e. agricultural tribute or trade profit taxes) This will probably be useful for the [[Unusual Governments To Take Inspiration From]] post stem. ### ch01p13 Trade, Commerce, and Towns > The first cities along the Nile began as governing and ritual centers, then (1000 BCE onwards) commerce grew into an equally and sometimes more important factor in the founding of cities. Then urban centers began to emerge. - [?] I think I'm confused about the difference between an urban center and a city. This quote seems to be saying: the cities happened, then commerce started to lead to cities, then urban centers happened? - [?] Were ritual centers important because of the *ritual* or because of the social importance of things that weren't necessarily trading-of-item events but more like "this is the annual meetup where we have a big party, find girlfriends, and learn stuff from each other" gatherings. I really feel like wrapping up of that up under the banner of "ritual" does readers a disservice by implying ancient civilizations were super mystical. But why does it have to be "pilgrimage to Mecca" in tone instead of "the annual trip to Burning Man" -- would love to know more here. > **town**: center with a population between 1,000 - 6,000 people. > **city**: large urban center, greater than 5,000 people. > **village**: cluster of 100-1,000 people. > **hamlet**: cluster under 100 people. > **local settlement**: neighborhood of scattered homesteads between 100-1,000 people. Compare the "local settlement" neighborhoods to how Kinderdijk windmills in the Netherlands were spread out but still clearly a community. ### ch01p14 Africans and Technical Innovation > We will learn, among other things, about the unique style of building in coral in the Swahili city-states; the great stone-walled structures of the capitol city of the Zimbabwe kingdom, built without mortar yet still standing centuries later; and the wooden palaces off the Mangbetu kings, which rivaled Japanese palaces and temples as the largest wooden structures ever built. 1. Remember the Mangbetu kings for a followup comparison for [[Infrastructure in Ancient Civilizations]], which actually does reference Japanese wooden buildings. 2. Building out of coral seems really cool and I should definitely #fic/expandWorldbuilding somewhere based on this phenomenon. Here's a good starting point: [wynne-jonesPublicLifeSwahili2013](https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2013.05.003) and notes from that would absolutely make a great addition to [[Newsletter Ideas]]. 3. The Zimbabwe kingdom reminds me of the [[Incan]] buildings; a comparison article might be useful inspiration for [[Article & Blog Idea]] -- kind of a guide on how to build without mortar and what sorts of environments might lack mortar but have stone. > Animism is a bad word for African religions, which took a variety of forms, including: monotheist, henotheistic, nontheistic and even polytheistic. - [n] I synthesized the available information about [[non-Christian monotheism in Africa]]. ### ch01p20 *Homo Sapiens* Enters the Scene > Previous scholars liked the idea of a million-year-long multiregional evolution of a single human species all across the Eastern Hemisphere [...] But actually 60,000 years ago the ancestors of all of us had already been fully human for some thousands of years, and all of those fully human ancestors of ours still lived on the African continent. Only after that time did some of those Africans begin to spread out to other parts of our globe, giving rise to the whole rest of the world's populations and bringing about, both directly and indirectly, the extinction of all other species of the genus *Homo*, the Neanderthals among them. - [?] Question for Verraine: where and when did magic evolve and is it unique to humans? ## ch02 Africa before the Agricultural Age, 16,000—9000 BCE ### ch02p27 > ==paraphrased== > The close of the ice age thus meant that people in many parts of the world had to seek out new kinds of food resources or pioneer new methods of obtaining sustenance. Most people adapted their previous habits or figured out new methods for hunting and gathering, around 9500-7000 BCE, others started domesticating things: southeastern Sahara (cow/sorghum), the Middle East, (sheep/wheat&barley) and southern East Asia (chicken/rice). Did we start domesticating them to *save* animal populations that were being wiped out due to climate change? Like a sort of "save the whales" thing? Does this have any resemblance to what's happening in the modern day with the development of salmon fisheries? When did we start domesticating shellfish like oysters? [[Article & Blog Idea]]! At some point I thought this might be useful as a comparison point for Scalzi's _The Collapsing Empire_ but I don't actually remember where I was going with that. ### ch02p35 Afrasan Civilization > ==paraphrased== > Around 16,000 BCE, the first "Cataract peoples" ground the tubers of "nut-grasses" (sort of like cattails) into flour to use as food. This was basically the first time anybody started collecting wild grasses for food, they used grindstones and stone blades as spears or stabbing weapons instead of bows and arrows. Because they only used sedge grasses, they were basically trapped around the southern Nile wetlands. This information about [[Egypt]] has some really interesting ramifications for [[Temple Mage|Temple Mage]]. ### ch02p41 Society & Customs of Ancient Afrasans > Their kind of belief system, in which a person gives allegiance to the community's own god while still accepting that other gods exist, is called _henotheism_. Useful definition. ### ch02p43 Nilo-Saharan Peoples and the Middle Nile Archaeological Tradition > The early Nilo-Saharan communities held to a nontheistic belief system. In this religion spiritual power and spiritual danger do not reside in a deity but are expressed by an animating force. In the modern Uduk language, this force is called *arum.* It is a force, concentrating in our livers, that makes us and animals alive; it is also the source of our anger, our fears, and our affections. Human begins restrain the *arum* within themselves through their receptive consciousness, called by the Uduk *kashira',* which is understood to reside in our stomachs. In the modern-day Uduk version of this belief system, there also exists disembodied *arum*, the residue of our lives, animal and human, that have lived in the past. The *arum* of people properly buried is reconstituted safely in communities underground. But there are also wandering *arum*, the residuum of people lost in the wild and never properly buried, and of animals killed by hunters. This animating force in its disembodied aspect, when not properly dealt with through ritual and religious observations, can be the source of danger and harm to people. Its effects, in other words, explain the problem of evil. This is fascinating and might have some implications for different cultural traditions surrounding [[Magic]] in Verraine. ### ch02p44 Niger-Congo Civilization > It seems also probable that the Niger-Congo hunters began developing poisons to be placed on their arrowheads fairly early, in this way considerably enhancing the effectiveness of their hunting. Poison arrowheads came earlier than I expected (c. 16000 BCE - 9000 BCE). ### ch02p45 Early Niger-Congo Society > Fishing, which seems to us today such an obvious source of food, appears to have been first taken up by human beings in most parts of the globe between 16,000 BCE and 9000 BCE. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that fishing developed so late, but I am. ### ch02p46 > ==paraphrased== > The typical residential unit in early Niger-Congo civilization may have been a relatively compact village, containing probably somewhere in the range of 100-200 inhabitants. The "core" was mostly related, but not exclusively. > ==paraphrased== > A common village layout was a single street with houses set out along each side of the street. If such a village fronted on a river, then the riverbank area formed the street, and the village comprised a single row of hoses on the side of the street away from the river. The houses in these villages had a rectangular floor plan and ridge roofs covered with woven palm matting. ### ch02p47 Technology & Artistry among the Early Niger-Congo Peoples > Mats for sleeping and preparing food and a variety of baskets comprised the most notable woven items for everyday, practical use. Sleeping and baskets I understand, but why do you need mats for food preparation? ### ch02p50 > But really the crucial spirits for religious observance and ritual were the ancestors. The ancestors were not worshiped; they were venerated. They deserved and required respect and remembrance. They could greatly affect the lives of people here and now; and people prayed to the and made offerings to them. The ancestors came first to people's minds in times of crisis or blessings. > > In early Niger-Congo thought, evil had two principal causes. It could result from neglect of the ancestors or from the actions of an ancestor spirit who had been an evil or malicious person when alive. Or it could be due to the malice, hate, or envy of a living person, whose malicious will manifested itself in "witchcraft." By witchcraft we mean the use of medicines and spells to bring harm to others. This is a good explanation of worship vs. veneration -- and can probably be utilized to differentiate between the [[Voldshee]] vs. [[Nahrian Temples]] religious attitude. ### ch02p53 Social Practices among the Early Khoisan > The local social and residential unit of the early Khoisan societies took the form of a band of roughly 25-50 people who were mostly (but not always) linked by birth or marriage. There wasn't a formal kinship structure; family connections were reckoned bilaterally (i.e. paternal and matrilineal lines counted equally). > > The band was sort of mobile, moving seasonally or not at all depending on local conditions. The settlement would have a loose arrangement of small dome-shaped houses, simple to build and no big deal if lost. Bands had recognized territories in which they had first rights for gathering and hunting; depending on resource scarcity this might range from 400 to 4,000+ sqkm. > > Different bands would meet together at particular times of the year at places with dependable water and food resources, holding dances and trading the irregular surpluses of their gathering and hunting. These occasions were important for sustaining cooperative relationships with other bands and allowed people to establish wider circles of friends and acquaintances their own small band. This social dimension was especially important for marriage, because people normally had to seek spouses from other bands. > > No hereditary leadership can be reconstructed for the early Khoisan peoples. The close kin connections within he band usually provided an adequate basis for cooperation in so small a group. Irresolvable differences, is they arose, could be relieved by some people's moving away to join another nearby band or to form a band of their own. 1. It's good to know that this kind of bilateral lineage reckoning existed. 2. #pkm/indexThis for social structures. ### ch02p54 Arts and Religion in Khoisan Civilization > The Khoisan were nontheistic who recognized the existance of an impoersonal condition of spirit, a force that existed outside human beings as well as in some animals. They felt this force could be tapped via trance-dance and used to heal sickness and relieve stress and conflict. In this procedure a person recognized for special religious talents, a kind of shaman, dances until they enter a trance. They weren't full-time specialists (unlike the doctor-diviners of the Niger-Congo civilization); they had no special position and engaged in the usual pursuits of everyone else. This would work for the [[Voldshee]]. ## ch03 Culture and Technology in Africa ### ch03p62 <blockquote class=paraphrase>One notable constant throughout this history was the correlation of ethnicity with climate. Cultural influences flowed both ways, and people must have interacted frequently and moved in both directions across this climatic transition, but their ethnic groups as a whole tended to spread out within the environmental zone they already occupied. </blockquote> ### ch03p64 porridge takes less effort than bread > The Northern Sudanic invention of pottery has some interesting consequences for Sudanian peoples' cuisines. In particular, from the beginning they prepared their grains differently from their Erythraic neighbors. Having pots, they could and did make porridge rather than breads from their flour. - [n] Porridge, which doesn't require grinding, is likely significantly easier than bread, even though the cook times for something like flatbread are relatively low. - [n] This sort of thing relates to the importance of [[The Gardener]] to the [[Nahrian People]]. - [n] Used for [[2022.01.10 Cuisine]] ### ch03p65 Northern Sudanians and the Domestication of Cattle. > More than a thousand years later, a separate taming of cattle took place in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. The third place in which cows appear to have bee independently domesticated was India, probably again somewhat later than Africa. I didn't know cows were [[domestication|domesticated]] three separate times. A comparison/contrast would be interesting. ([[Article & Blog Idea]]). ### ch03p66 Society & Religion among Nothern Sudanians > The Sudanic religion, as we will term it here, was monotheistic. At the core of the belief system was a single Divinity, or God. Divinity was identified metaphorically with the sky, and the power of Divinity was often symbolized by lighting. There was no other category of spirits or deities. The ancestors passed after death into some kind of vaguely conceived afterlife, but they had no functional role in religious observance or ritual. A blog post pushing back against the idea that monotheism is a mostly Middle Eastern thing would be cool (cc: [[Article & Blog Idea]] specifically for a worldbuilding context: monotheism does not have to be Abrahamic!) ### ch03p67 The Saharo-Sahelian Peoples and the Beginnings of Crop Cultivation > The Saharo-Sahelians, in order to tend their fields more effectively, had to set down larger and longer-lasting settlements. Because they stayed all year in one place, they began to dig wells to provide water for their cattle and themselves through the long dry season, and they soon transformed the structure and layout of their residences. > > By 7000 BCE the typical Saharo-Sahelian extended family resided in a large homestead surrounded by a thick thornbush fence. The area of ground thus enclosed acted as a cattle pen, protecting their animals at night from predators, esp. lions and hyenas. The thorn pens also served as the location for their houses and the granaries in which they stored their cultivated grain. We used thornbushes before barbed wire in the American West but not like this that I'm aware of... it's a neat idea for worldbuilding. The most appropriate analogue in Verraine would be the people who live along the edge of the [[Midire Desert]] and trade with the [[Imazi]]. ### ch03p69 The Aquatic Tradition of the Sudan, 9000-5500 BCE > The Aquatic peoples are known especially for their bone harpoons, with which they speared large fish, such as the Nile perch, and hunted down hippopotamuses. They made a variety of other fishing gear, including probably fish traps and, in some areas, fishhooks formed out of shell. In the Sahara the lands of the Aquatic societies frequently intertwined with those of the Northern Sudanian agripastoralists, with the Aquatic communities living right along the larger permanent streams and lakes and the cattle raisers occupying the intervening areas away from the major bodies of water. This is super relevant for [[Senna's Ford]] in general and [[Khent]] in particular. ### ch03p72 The Intertwining of the Sudanic Agripastoral and the Aquatic Traditions > Along the middle Nile River, a modified form of the Aquatic way of life continued to operate into much later times. Village-based societies emerged there in the sixth millennium, supplementing the fishing expertise of the Aquatic background with livestock raising and cultivation. This is super relevant for [[Senna's Ford]] in general and [[Khent]] in particular. ### ch03p73 > None of the early Sudanic peoples practiced either circumcision or clitoridectomy, but they did engage in another notable kind of bodily marking, **the extraction in** _**adolescents**_ **of the two lower incisor teeth.** Unlike circumcision, this trait is visible in the archaeological record. When archaeologists encounter skeletons lacking the two lower front teeth, they have a useful marker for identifying the sites of Sudanic civilization. - [i] Referenced here: [[Calendars and Rites of Passage]]. - [n] Is additional support for [[2021.09.20 Dentition]] #nonfic/twitterFodder ### ch03p73 > Another practice among peoples of Sudanic civilization that probably dAtes back to this era was the use of side-blown horns both as trumpets and as instruments of warning or announcements. Relevant for [[Senna's Ford]] in general and [[Khent]] in particular. ### ch03p76 > The word meaning "protected animal" in the ancestral Erythraite probably diffused outward and started to mean "pig" in Egyptian language, "sheep, goat (in general)" in the Semitic languages in the Levant and "cow" in the Cushite and Chadic languages. I shared this with Ryan for his book about the cursed guy who has trouble communicating clearly. ### ch03p77 > The keeping of donkeys spread before 4000 BCE from Africa into southwestern Asia, where they replaced the onager, a related but difficult to domesticate equine, as the major beast of burden. See also: [[2020.11.30 Onager]] ### ch03p79 > The history of those southern Erythraites provides an intriguing example of the spread of religion without the existence of either missionaries or religious writings. The religious beliefs of the proto-Cushites, probably as early as the 7th millennium BCE, came to blend two distinct religious traditions. The Cushitic system of clans with clan priest-chiefs, which derived from their ancient Afrasan cultural roots, still persisted as teh basis of social loyalty and cooperation among the proto-Cushites, but the beleif in a clan deity lost its salience. In its place, and no doubt as a result of their long association with the Northern Sudanic peoples to their immediate east, the early Cushites adopted the Sudanic concept of Divinity. They chose their own word for the new concept of sprit, expanding the meaning of the cold Cushitic root word for "sky" to apply to both "sky" and "Divinity." The priest-chief still had relgious duties, but these duties came to be redirected toward Divinity. The Cushites retained the old Afrasan practice of attributing bad happensings to dangerous spirits, although they now sometimes also viewed evil as a Divine retribution. Include this in the planned blog post about pre-Abrahamic monotheism. ### ch03p80 Agricultural Invention: Enset Agriculture in the Horn > ==paraphrased== > But somewhere in the region—we do not know exactly where—there resided a community or a set of communities that came across a truly different idea for obtaining food. > > The resource they utilized to cope with the growing food crisis was not a grain, not a tuber or root, not a seed or fruit, and not even the leafy greens of plants. They discovered instead that the interior part of the stem and the bulb of a certain large wild plant, when pounded up and cooked, provided a large and reliable source of carbohydrates, the basic stuff of the diet—bland, it is true, but sufficiently nourishing and tasty when prepared with oils and condiments. It looks like a banana plant and was necessary because there was too much rain for grain to grow, then after the rains declined, the local people started protecting and nurturing the enset plant. It's still grown in Ethiopia today, although it's primarily decorative now. This would be relevant for the people north of the [[Temple of Tef]]. ### ch03p83 > From an early period they also tended two tree crops, the oil palm and the raffia palm. The oil palm provided cooking oil from its nuts as well as palm wine from its sap; the raffia palm was another source of palm wine, and by the fourth or third millennium BCE its fiber had become highly valued by West Africans for the weaving of raffia cloth. 64. This is a useful reference for [[All the Things That Trees Can Be]]. Also relates to the article I read on 2021-02-02 about palm wine. 65. I love the idea of palm farmers instead of grain farmers. ### The Cushitic Agripastoral Tradition > Perhaps the spread of grassland increased the attractiveness of grain cultivation for the Cushites. Alternatively, the decline of the wild grain resources, with the return to wetter conditions after 5500 BCE, may have been what pushed the Cushites toward cultivation. I continue to really love the idea that agriculture came about as a sort of "save the wales" attempt to stave off having to change the status quo of the culture's eating habits due to climate change. ### ch03p89 Planting Agriculture Spreads into the West African Rainforest > Clan chiefs, called _*kumu_, of a religious but not as yet truly political kind existed among them, and the influence of such a priest-chief must rarely have extended beyond one or two villages. This is a useful #nonfic/twitterFodder for the [Ancient Priests: Practical Impacts of Early Experts](https://eleanorkonik.com/ancient-priests-practical-impact/) blog post. Import and begin collating information. ### ch03p91 Developments in the History of Religion > Dating to sometime in the 8th or 7th millennium BCE, the Cushitic blending of the Sudanic concept of divinity with the beliefs drawn from their earlier Afrasan religion is the earliest instance of religious syncretism yet known in world history. Seems important. ### ch03p97 Africa 9000-3500 BCE in the Context of World History > Food production may have had an independent inception in up to six other regions of the world as well. As many as three separate inventions of agriculture can be traced in the Western Hemisphere. The earliest was initiated by the domestication of pumpkins and chilies in northeastern Mexico at around the eight millennium. The heartland of this agriculture shifted southward by about the sixth millennium, when maize (corn) and beans were brought into cultivation in the better watered southern Mexican and northern Central American region. A second American agriculture was invented in the Andean highlands. Its key early crop was potatoes, and it was there that the most notable domestic animal of the Americas, the llama, was raised. A third center of agricultural invention may have been in the tropical lowlands of South America, with manioc and American yams as major crops. Two other early centers of agriculture can be proposed for eastern parts of Asia, one in north China, based on millet, and the other on the island of New Guinea. It also now appears possible that food production began separetaly too in India, with an independent domestication there of the zebu type of cattle as early as the eight or seventh millennium BCE. 85. This is useful to bear in mind when coming up with independent inventions of different things in Verraine; there are real-world examples of multiple invention sites of something. 86. Related to [[domestication timeline]]. ### ch03p98 Africa 9000-3500 BCE in the Context of World History > We have also seen that a key technological invention, pottery, emerged first among peoples of the Northern Sudanian background in Africa and did not appear among peoples of southwestern Asia until 2,000 or more years later. Integrate into [[ceramics]]. ### ch03p102 Major Civilizations of Africa: Typical Features of Culture, ca. 5000 BCE | | Niger-Congo | Sudanic | Afrasan | Khoisan | | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | | Kinship and Social institutions | matrilineages and maybe some matriclans composed of several lineages | clans, originally matrilineal | patrilineal clans | bilateral reckoning of relationships without lineages or clans | | Local community | villages | often villages but sometimes scattered homesteads, esp. in the eastern Sudan belt | often villages but sometimes scattered homesteads, esp. in the horn of africa | mobile bands | | Leadership Roles | lineage priest-chiefs | sudanic sacral chiefs or no hereditary chiefs | clan-chiefs with ritual responsibilities | no hereditary leaders | | Livelihood | west african planting agriculture, fishing, hunting and gathering | sudanic agriculture; fishing along lakes and major streams | agriculture (cushites: cattle raising, t'ef, finger millet cultivation. Omotic peoples: eset cultivation. Egypt and North Africa: beginnings of livestock raising, wheat and barley cultivation; ancestral Chadic society: sudanic agriculture) | eclectic hunting and gathering | | Notable tools and weapons | bows and arrows; stone axes/hoes and adzes | spears; digging poles and sticks for farming | bows and arrows; spirits; digging poles and sticks for farming | bows and arrows; weighted digging sticks | | Specialized crafts | weaving (mats, raffia cloth), barkcloth making; basketry; woodworking (boat building, mask making, etc); after about 5000 BCE, pottery making | pottery making as early as 9000 BCE; carving of wooden bowls, troughs; boat making; basketry; leather working ; cotton weaving in eastern Sudan | leatherworking; pottery after 6000 BCE ish | unknown | | House styles | rectangular, gable-roofed houses (esp. in rainforests) | round houses with cone-shaped roofs | rectangular, flat-roofed houses mostly | hemospherical dome-shaped houses | | Principal visual art | sculpture in wood | unknown | rock painting, engraving | rock painting, engraving | | Music and dance | polyrhythmic, percussion-based music; drums; dance involving multiple body movements | horns, string instruments | string instruments, dances probably involved swaying body movements and footwork | string instruments; dancing with lots of footwork | | Features of religion and medicinal belief and practice; religious and medical roles | creator god; ancestor spirits; territorial spirits; evil caused by individual malice or by neglect of duties to ancestors; diviner-doctors; priests of territorial spirits | divinity; evil caused by divine judgment or retribution; herbal healers; prophets (people who feel caused by Divinity to divine the causes of evil or to act as mediators between people and Divinity) | henotheism; evil often caused by dangerous spirits | nontheistic belief in the existance of a power underlying existence that could be tapped with a trance-dance used by shamans. | These categories are important to consider when worldbuilding a new society. And it's also a really great overview. ## ch04 Diverging Paths of History ### ch04p113 Bantu Peoples in the Far Northwestern Equatorial Rainforest > The BaTwa may have been the inventors of a particular African kind of crossbow, the arbolet, of lasting importance in the economy of forest hunting. I would love to know more about this, not least of which because there's not really a time frame given or and there's not a lot of elaboration here. Also: how are arbolets related to arbalests? ### ch04p114 Early Southward Movements of Bantu Peoples, 3500-2000 BCE <blockquote class=paraphrase>Among the Nyong-Lomami farmers, men cleared the land and women farmed it, using techniques designed to preserve soil fertility by leaving the "litter" of the clearing process so that the rain didn't hit the ground directly. </blockquote> I love this gender division for worldbuilding; haven’t seen anything like it elsewhere. Also; #research to find more resources about why plowing is bad most of the time. It's probably relevant to the Temple of [[The Gardener]] and also life in general. ### ch04p117 Culture and Society in Early Bantu History > Boys were circumcised and initiated into relatively informal age-sets during their adolescence. Age-sets were community-wide institutions and their members would have been called upon by the village or priest-chief to undertake group tasks for the community, such as clearing paths. In the Savanna-Bantu society of the later second millennium, a series of observances lasting as much as several weeks surrounded the circumcision and initiation of boys. These observances included the seclusion of the boys in a circumcision camp, masked dancing, the ritual marking of the boys with white clay, and probably other rituals. > > Girls were not circumcised, but they did go through two major rites of passage before being considered as full adults in their society. Puberty, and then the birth of their first child—not marriage, because marriage was a relatively weak bond compared to how it exists in the modern West. I need to make a [[Rites of Passage]] concept note and pull out the details, particularly with regards to the age-sets for infrastructure creation. It comes up again and it’s actually super important for how they wind up “conscripting” armies, too. ### ch04p127 Beyond the Agricultural Frontier: South-Central and Southern Africa <blockquote class=paraphrase>Another notable development in fishing from comes from the Khoisan in the second millennium BCE. They build stone dams along the shore to enhance the productivity of fishing. During a high tide the rising seawater would fill into the areas behind the small dams. As the tide receded a few hours later, the water would filter out between the stones, stranding fish in the shrinking pools of water behind the dams and making them easy to find and catching. This innovation had a lasting importance, and as late as the 20th century coastal communities continued to repair and use these structures. </blockquote> This wouldn’t work for Khent but it might be useful for the people of the [[Arais Delta]]. Also, I should probably #pkm/indexThis for fishing methodologies. ### ch04p129 Agriculture Intensification in the Ethiopian Rift Valley <blockquote class=paraphrase>The slopes of the rift valley were well-suited to irrigation work because small streams flowed down to the plains from the higher elevations, and it was relatively easy to turn water from the streams into irrigation furrows that would carry the water by gravity to nearby fields.</blockquote> How does this compare to the [[Incan]] solution? ### ch04p131 > Because the fields to be irrigated lay on steep hillsides, the Highland East Cushitic farmerse began to build terraces to stave off the erosion of their lands. The earliest terraced fields may have been supported simply by earthen embankments. But early on, probably well before 1000 BCE, the irrigation farmers of the southern Ethopian Highlands increasingly turned to building stone-walled terraces, a much more effective and long-lasting kind of support than earthen embankments. How does *this* compare to the Inca? Worldbuilding by comparison is a nice article series idea ([[Article & Blog Idea]]) as well: find everybody who did a particular thing and figure out how flexible the idea is. For [[Worldbuilding Magazine]] focus on the meta, i.e. “How to worldbuild by comparison — if you want to do something “like the Inca” there might be value in finding out *who else* did that thing so you can figure out which pieces of their process is necessary for realism. This can help you avoid things like cultural appropriation while you still take inspiration from an underutilized setting. ### ch04p132 Agricultural Intensification in the Ethopian Rift: Cultural Effects > The most common kind of response to demographic pressures in early historical eras all across the globe is for states to form. The Ethiopian region, however, used a cycling age-set system to provide wider social cohesion. Age-sets are groupings formed of adolescent boys who have gone through a common rite of passage together to become young adults. Can research this later. Here's a starting point from [Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibinda_(age_set)). The main thing that's interesting is that they basically conscripted the kids and put them through a bonding ritual in order to make them get along and view each other as friends. Sort of the equivalent of mass conscription and boot camp -- a shared experience made them more willing to cooperate. It's a fascinating alternative to a "traditional" hierarchical allegiance set-up. ### ch04p137 > To put the discovery of metals into a wider context, the Middle East / Egypt forms the best known of the several areas in which metalworking originated, but it was far from being the oldest. The earliest copper users of all were the people who made the Old Copper culture of the American Great Lakes region, dating to around 6000 BCE. By contrast, Otzi's copper axe, found in the European Alps, dates to around 3400-3100 BCE. ### ch04p144 Nubian and Egypt Sources of Political Growth and Social Stratification > How does growing population density encourage the class differences ina society and the formation of states? As population pressure increases, a common consequence is a growing competition and conflict over the available resources. The existing institutions of society—which arose in times when small, local social units were the rule, and easy access to resources was available for all—lack rules and customary laws adequate to address the new problems. In the turmoil of such times, the people (for example, clan chiefs) who already hold culturally recognized roles of authority in society, are particularly well situated to apply the sanctions and social influence of their positions in new ways. Those among them who have the necessary ambition and talents take the central role in establishing new rules for unequal access to resources. In so doing, they consolidate new kinds of political and social positions for themselves, as chiefs or kings in a new, layered social order. This honestly blew my mind. It never occurred to me that early kings, etc., were basically pre-positioned by pre-existing rank that previously didn't matter much to benefit. There are some other examples of this but it's so huge and mindblowing and has so many ramifications for things like "Roman Senators giving themselves tax breaks" and stuff like "pre-existing wealth makes it easier to subvert democracy" that it all just kind of comes together as a shining moment and this into a great #nonfic/articleSeed because this is a particularly huge deal with a lot of political implications, particularly I can #pkm/xref and #pkm/synthesize this with the [[Too Big to Sail How a Legal Revolution Clogged Our Ports by Matt Stoller]] piece. ### ch04p145 The Historical Roots of Nubian and Egyptian Kingship > An interesting light is thrown on how a sacral leader becomes a divine ruler if one looks at this religious context. South of Egypt, under the monotheistic Sudanic religion, the later kings of Nubia and other states of the Sudan belt of Africa retained their sacral aspects but could never become viewed as gods themselves. In contrast, in Egypt, where political unification changed henotheism into polytheism, it was possible by the time of the Third Dynasty for a king to convert the claim of sacred status into a claim of being included among the gods. The claim being made here is that "god-kings" only come about in polytheistic contexts, whereas "sacral leadership" (which has a lot of really weird connotations showing up on Google but even the [Britannica](https://www.britannica.com/topic/sacred-kingship) version doesn't come close to the way "sacral leaders" are being described by Ehret, which I *think* is mostly "kings whose followers are sacrificed and buried with the king when the king dies" in this context). [[2022.01.26a broken heart syndrome and human sacrifice customs|sacral kingship]] ### ch04p151 The Kerma Kingdom > To control the land around the Third Cataract was to be able to concentrate one's forces at the one narrow point of easy access that an army coming from the north was most likely to follow. In any case, as with Egypt in those times, surely Kerma's growth and power ultimately rested not on trade, even though trade was important, but on the capacity of its lands to sustain a concentrated population and the abilities of its rulers to draw tribute in kind and in labor service from the general populace. "What is the base of power for the state?" is a key question for worldbuilding. Something for the [[Article & Blog Idea]] list would be to do a comparison of styles, i.e. compare this with the West African Kingdoms that *were* dependent on trade. ### ch04p151 Urban and Rural Life along the Nile > In the case of sacral chiefdoms and kingdoms of the Middle Nile Basin and pre-dynastic Egypt, towns were both political and religious centers at the same time. Towns attracted population, because power and influence resided there, and access to position and wealth could be gained trhough service to royal or hieratic leadership. > > Trade goods came to these early towns because they had larger potential markets. But whether in Egypt, or Kerma, or elsewhere in the world, the earliest towns were not commercial centers in their own right. Local produce might be brought in by farmers and traded to people living in the town, but socially valuable products, such as ivory or ostrich feathers or precious metals, tended to be a monopoly of the ruler. By controlling access to such commodities, and by appointing royal agents to acquire them, a king or chief kept control over the redistribution of prestige goods and used that control to reinforce and enhance royal power. Capitalism had no place in the economic order of the earliest states and towns. > > Neither did taxation as we know it. Instead, kings were owed tribute and labor from their subjects. 175. This is pretty useful for establishing [[Brookside]]'s background and how traders and merchants there function vs. in [[Uskune]] or [[Marna]]. 176. How is "tribute" different from "taxation" exactly? I've read a bunch of articles on it and I honestly still don't get it. 177. See also [[2022.01.26a broken heart syndrome and human sacrifice customs|sacral kingship]] ### ch04p153 Rejected Cotton It's interesting that the ancient Egyptians never adopted cotton, sticking totally with linen, even as cotton spread all around them. ### ch04p153 North African Steppe and Desert Peoples, 3500-1000 BCE > Berber raiders, operating out of the oases to the west of the NIle Valley, attacked Egypt on a number of occasions in the 21st and 20th centuries BCE. The consolidation of royal power in the Middle Kingdom eventually reestablished peace on Egypt's western borderlands, in part by giving some of these [[Berbers]] employment in the Egyptian military forces. That's definitely one way to make peace... but who did the Egyptian military forces fight, then? ### ch04p158 Human Sacrifice > The case for tracing Sudanic sacral kingship back to an ancient sacral chiefship of early Sudanic civilization has been reprised recently in _Agricultural and pastoral societies in ancient and classical history_ by Michael Adas (LCC: SF140.P38 A38 2001). The distinctive early feature of this complex, the burial of servants to accompany rulers into the afterlife, evoked historically shared ideas about death already deeply imbedded in Middle Nile culture 5,000 years ago. In contrast, human sacrifices in the royal ritual of some recent Niger-Congo-speaking kingdoms, such as Benin and Dahomey, belonged to a quite different conceptual system. They were just that, sacrifices, propitiating gods or invoking sacred power, and not statements about life after death. Super interesting look at the difference between sacrifices "per se" (a la the [[Aztecs]]) vs sacrifices in the sati ([[2022.01.26a broken heart syndrome and human sacrifice customs|suttee]]) sense of accompanying someone to the afterlife. ## ch05 An Age of Commerce, an Age of Iron: Africa, 1000 BCE to 300 CE ### ch05p161 The Anatolian and Central African Origins of Iron Technology > Ironworking was an established technology in two parts of sub-Saharan Africa several centuries before iron became regularly available in Egypt and North Africa. Plus, there were differences in style. tldr; ironworking was probably independently invented in Africa > Only rarely did the possession of iron technology by itself become, over the short run, the central factor in social or political change. This contradicts the usual claims, so it's interesting. ### ch05p162-164 Understanding the Commercial Revolution <blockquote class=paraphrase> <p> Around 1000 BCE, trade transitioned from being controlled by rulers (i.e. Egyptian expeditions like the one organized by Hatsheput) to being much smaller in scale. The Phoenicians seemed to pioneer this around the 11th century BCE, extending trading connections west through the Mediterranean Sea by creating colonies, notably Carthage. </p><p> The main long-range importance of this is that it involved a fundamental shift in the social economy of trade, resulting in a new social class in the eastern Mediterranean: merchants, who began as trading proxies for large landowners but in the Levant, real merchant capitalist enterprise began taking shape. Unlike kings seeking luxury goods for ostentatious displays, merchants serve more eclectic clientele and have to compete for markets and products—they don't just have a single ruler to keep happy, which ultimately results in the need for expanding trade networks and progressive growth in the variety and quantity of goods traded, because they're motivated by *profit* not *position.* </p> </blockquote> This is a big deal for [[economics]]. Also: I didn't know that [[Phoenician|Phoenicia]] had the first merchant class. ### ch05p164-165 Social and Political Consequences of the Commercial Revolution > For the first time the planting of colonies in distant lands became possible. The Phoenicians settlements in the central and western Mediterranean, such as Carthage in North Africa, and the slightly later establishment of Greek colonies are early examples. The South Arabians settled the far northern Ethiopian Highlands. This is different from the kinds of military and ethnic outpost style colonization that happened outside of the heartland of a state like Egypt trying to expand control of nearby territory because it was explicitly not contiguous to the heartland. Even though this is something I teach, I didn't really internalize the importance of of merchant-driven trade for colonization. This would be useful to integrate into some of my website [[Article & Blog Idea]] about colonization. This is a good #nonfic/articleSeed about colonization and I should take the opportunity to update some of those old posts about colonization. > The natural political manifestation of the Commercial Revolution was the city-state, by which we mean a polity, relatively small in population and territory, centered around a single commercially based city. - [?] How is this different from someplace like Ur or Babylon? > When the effects of commercial transformation reached a kingdom, kings and emperors soon lost their ability to treat trade as a royally capitalized and instigated activity, intended to preserve the commodities of trade as the perquisites of immemorial power and position. Instead their policies shifted toward controlling access to the products of commerce and to ensuring security and other conditions that attracted and enhanced the movement of goods. No longer could kings rely on agriculturally sustained and religiously based claims to an ability to protect their people; now they also had to overtly support the material prosperity of their people vis-a-vs other societies. > > Rather than exerting a monopoly over prestige commodities, as the Egyptian kings of the 3rd and 2nd millennia had done, and redistributing such commodities in ways designed to reinforce the allegiance of their subjects and enhance the awesomeness of their position, rulers turned to the taxation of trade and to the creation and control of currency. Fascinating description of how [[Phoenician|Phoenicia]] managed trade and taxes and an amazing summary of a highly complex process as humanity moved from agricultural power to trade power. ### ch05p166-167 > The Commercial Revolution tended to spread a particular pattern of exchange: the early commercial centers of the Mediterranean usually offered manufactured goods (purple dye, metal goods, wine, olive oil, etc) for raw materials or partially processed natural products of other regions, like wheat or myrrh. The more recently added areas of commerce provided new kinds (or new sources) of raw materials. Note that this vastly pre-dates Imperialism and stuff like the Triangle Trade. ### ch05p168 The Rise of "World" Religions <blockquote class=paraphrase>Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, as missionary religions with fixed sacred texts, had for the first time the ability to meaningfully persecute other people for believing differently. The ability to do so was predicated on the Commercial Revolution because it was the first time there were far-reaching economic links. They mostly didn't penetrate Africa until around 300 CE. </blockquote> ### ch05p178 The Growth of Khoekhoe herder populations <blockquote class=paraphrase>Seniority was based on the historical claim of the senior clan that it was the original kin group from which the other clans of the chiefdom had split. the chiefs of the individual clans of the polity, including the historically senior class, filled the roles of lineage-chiefs over the senior lineages of their respective clans. It's probably the case that the chiefs of the larger chiefdoms weren't really "in charge," though. In day-to-day affairs their influence and authority was mostly a function of their personal wealth in livestock and only rarely were there cases where their rights to adjudicate or lead in war became relevant. </blockquote> Can probably follow up on this to get a better sense of how nomadic herding cultures like the [[Monche Nomads]] operate. ### ch05p181 Kusi villages <blockquote class=paraphrase>The Kusi settled in compact villages, did some hunting and gathering on the side, and were well-positioned to become manufacturing centers for the areas around them when iron-working came to southern Africa. The villagers also made pottery, which they traded to neighboring gatherer-hunter bands. They probably also made wooden stools, containers, baskets, etc.</blockquote> Useful for thinking about how [[Brookside]] and [[Senna's Ford]] operated in terms of trading with nearby hunter-gatherers. ### ch05p186 Rhapta <blockquote class=paraphrase>Like Carthage, which was founded by Phoenicians on the Mediterranean coast of Africa, Rhapta originated as a trading settlement closely linked to outside commercial interests, in this case South Arabian merchants. "Sewn boats" called mtepe and dugout canoes were used there. The surrounding groups were small, local, independent communities typical to the region at the time.</blockquote> ### ch05p188 Indonesians settle Madagascar > they brought with them food crops reproduced by planting rather than sowing of seeds, notably Asian yams, taro, bananas, and sugarcane. I do not understand the significance of planting vs. sowing but I can imagine some worldbuilding implications for a society that doesn't use seed crops (if nothing else it will seem relatively unique to a Western audience and could allow some fun on-the-page stuff when seed crops are introduced). ### ch05p196 female office holders among the Sabi <blockquote class=paraphrase>The early Sabi shfited to a solely matrilineal reckoning and communal female initiation ceremonies became their central social rite. They maintained two rites of passage for women and male initiation become unimportant, male circumcision disappearing entirely. They also added a new word for female holders of various social offices and occupations. An important consolidation of female gender roles was coming into being around this time and women strengthened their position in society. </blockquote> Feminist history is real history. Also useful for a Rites of Passage concept page stem. ### ch05p200 Ironworking in Western African Equatorial Society > The older fishing specialist communities grew into collections of allied trading villages, selling their own fish and acting as middlemen in the metal and other trades between distant places. Useful for [[Senna's Ford]]'s development. ### ch05p201 Egypt and the Commercial Revolution <blockquote class=paraphrase>Egypt had a conservative kind of political economy compared to their neighbors. The geography of the Nile let the kings channel trade through central entrepoints under royal control, so there wasn't an indigenous merchant class in Egypt to engage in long-distance trade until at least 700 years after their neighbors. </blockquote> Kings holding onto power made Egypt a backwater, lol. Nobody ever talks about this? But it's interesting. ### ch05p202 From Pottery to Politics > Byt he 11th century, Egyptian rule over the Nubian stretches of the Nile was clearly something of the past, and the older Sudanic cultural traditions of the region soon began strongly to reassert themselves in all realms of life, from pottery manufacture to politics. I love the idea of "from pottery to politics" as a tagline for a [[Article & Blog Idea]] stem summarizing something related to this literature note. ### ch05p203 Alexander's Generals > After the deat of Alexander the Great in 323, his conquests, which included Egypt, were divided up among his three leading generals. This is basically what [[Lupicin]] is trying to do. ### ch05p206 Meroe Infrastructure > In one large rural area, the Meroitic government exerted continuous and direct control. In the steppes to the east of the Nile, just south of the Atbara River, the Meroites built and maintained large earthen diversion dams across the beds of seasonal streams. These engineering works would have created reservoirs providing water for livestock during the long, nine-month dry season of that area. They also allowed recessional irrigation of fields, where one plants crops in the wet soils left behind as a stream or other body of water shrinks in the dry season. This is a neat way to "irrigate" land. ### ch05p207 Culture, Economy, and Ethnicity in Meroe > The Makurians, in particular, might have been encouraged by the Meroitic kings to settle as a buffer population, responsible for the defense of these territories from teh threats coming from Egypt. They provide an example, not uncommon in world history, of a pastoral transhumant population attracted to the more productive lands and material wealth of a neighboring, strongly sedentary and partially urbanized society. > > During the next several centuries, other pastoral Nubian peoples continued to inhabit the steppes that extended westward from Meroe and the Nile River. They seem not to have emerged as a threat to the stability of the kingdom until its era of decline after 100 CE. This has implications for the [[Monche Nomads]] and also maybe the Russian desire to have Eastern Europe as a buffer zone. I've never really heard about this idea of encouraging this sort of buffer zone, I wonder if America did it with friendly Native tribes at any point? Something to #research. There's definitely an [[Article & Blog Idea]] buried here — I think there's a missed opportunity to do more with these buffer zones in fiction. ### ch05p215 Politics and Trade in the Kingdom of Aksum > Aksum comes to be considered by the Romans as the third great power in their known world, along with their own empire and the empire of the Parthians and later Sassanids in Persia. I had no idea that the [[Roman]] Empire considered Aksum and Persia as their equals! ### ch05p217 Omotic & Highland East Cushitic Sacred Kings > The first millenium BCE probably marked the emergence of a new type of government in the southwestern Ethiopian Highlands: a sacred chiefship. Its roots le in the old Omotic vversion of teh Afroasiatic clan chief. In the old Omotic henotheism, the hereditary clan head was a priestly ficture, responsible for making the annual livestock sacrifices to the society's or clan's deity, and at the same time an especially sacred because of these duties. As early as 1000 BCE this evolved into a chiefship able to make political and spiritual claims to the communtiy's allegience. This might be a useful follow-up to the [[Ancient Priests]] article. ### ch05p223 North Africa in the Carthigian Era > It now appears fairly certain that Juba II was responsible for the first human settlement of the Canary Islands, when he exiled a small group of rebellious subjects to those islands late in the first century BCE. This group became the basis for the Berber-speaking Guanche population of the Canaries, rediscovered by Europeans in the 14th century. This is useful for contextualizing Andamana, who I wrote about in the [[Female Judges as Rulers]] article. ### ch05p226 Camels and the Emergence of Pastoral Nomadism in Africa It wasn't until around 1000-300 BCE that the [[Berbers]] got access to camels via Arabia. This led to the development of true pastoral nomadism for specifically the: > marginalized [[Berbers]] of the desert fringes of North Africa and for the Beja of the Red Sea Hills, who previously could raise only a few hardy goats and sheep in their arid lands, the adoption of the camel had revolutionary effects. For the first time they possessed a large animal, a source of much meat and much milk, truly adapted to arid climates—able to be taken into the deep desert, into areas where even goats couldn't survive. By contrast, Early African pastoralists were transhumant, aka they would have a "base camp" and then have to travel from there to pastures during certain seasons. ### ch05p228 Social and Political Change in West Africa's First Commercial Age <blockquote class=paraphrase>Villages in a post-iron economy tend to specialize in different kinds of manufacturoing, i.e. a village of smelters and smiths, a village of leatherworkers, a village of potters, etc. The products of each occupation were taken to the central market in the larger town near where the artisans' villages clustered. There they would be bought by local consumers and traders.</blockquote> This jives with my understanding of places like Pittsburg being a steel city and Detroit being a car city and Milan being a fashion city and Mirano being a glass-making city but I didn't realize this extended to towns around a city or villages around a town. <blockquote class=paraphrase>When ironworking first became a thing in Africa, the ironworkers surrounded their activities with taboos and rituals to ensure success, which, intentionally or not, basically created a monopoly. Eventually, other specialists like the leatherorkers and the potters started to claim similar kinds of ritual-esque status for themselves, passing their skills down via lineage. This was at first pretty similar to guilds, but then the occupational groupings started marrying in-round and then became castes. </blockquote> It never occurred to me that this is how castes might have developed. I wonder how much the desire to access one lineage's secrets might have led to this sort of marrying in-round? ### ch05p233 Society and Economy in the West African Woodlands and Forest > Among the peoples living right on the coast, the invention of a sophisticated technology of rice production accompanied this changeover of diet. The new technology centered on clearing fields along the estuaries of rivers and the building of extensive dikes and specially constructed drains. The drains allowed the farmer to channel tidal flow of seawater into a field, to leave the saltwater for a time in the field, thus killing the seeds of potential weeds, and finally to drain the seawater away again. The farmer could then direct river water into the field, to leach out the salt left behind and deposit a new layer of fertile silt. What a fascinating weed control method! [[Newsletter Ideas]] ## ch06 Southern, Central, and Eastern Africa: The Middle Centuries, 300-1450 ### ch06p245 Cattle Keepers and Kings, 900-1300 CE > In the early centuries of the first millennium CE, when goods of potentially high value, such as iron and copper, were still rare, the institution of clan chiefship maintained the social order well. But the acquisition of growing numbers of cattle between 300 and 900 gradually upset this balance. Some chiefs, taking advantage of their positions as adjudicators int he community's acquisition and disposal of property, were able to greatly build up their own personal herds. Possessing large numbers of animals, the chiefs began to be able to attract and old new followers and clients by redistributing cattle to them. Because cattle were men's property, chiefship at the same time became increasingly the prerogative of men. > > Old chiefly prerogatives, formerly of limited practical effect, were transformed into the basis of rule, all because those prerogatives gave chiefs a much greater access to a newly important kind of property. Chiefs then commenced cementing their power and influence by contracting marriage alliances with many families from different parts of the chiefdom. By marrying their daughters to such a chief, these families not only now had a stake in preserving the chief's power, but also increased their own social and political influence. 330. Corruption makes for good story fodder. 331. This is a fascinatingly clear example of how methods of wealth distribution that were fine at their inception become unfair and can even break a society. Discuss as part of the [[economics]] moc. ### ch06p251 Great Zimbabwe and the Indian Ocean Trade, 1100-1450 > How did the effects of these developments converge? They converged around the political idea of the centrality of the chief or king in the social networks of wealth redistribution. In the 10th century, cattle were the chief form of wealth that a king had special access to and a special ability to redistribute. Local trade would sporadically have produced small amounts of other kinds of wealth for redistribution. In such instances, ancient custom apparently dictated that one half of the product to be traded belonged to the king. For example, one tusk of every elephant killed went to the ruler while the hunter kept the other. So when the demand for ivory and gold at the coast increased this shifted the balance between trade and cattle raising as the material basis of a king's power. It really is interesting that kings didn't start new seizures or anything, they basically adapted the old tithes systems (where a king was presumably given a relatively small gift in thanks for their service in mediating disputes in stuff), that used to work just fine into something that made them *super rich* when the opportunity arose. ### ch06p249 Indian Ocean Trade: The Swahili Factor, 700-1100 ^224dea > In at least one city, Lamu, founded around the thirteenth century, the merchant oligarchy itself formed the governing body, and there was no position of king. Ohey there aren't that many examples of historical oligarchies that were actually for-real oligarchies ruled by a council, so that's cool. Even Venice had a Doge. > Masons made their mark early in this society by devising a new style of architecture in the 10th and 11th centuries and built multistory houses of coral for wealthy families. A specialized group of skilled workers cut blocks of coral from the reefs along the coast. The blocks turned hard when exposed to air, allowing the masons to use them like bricks to form the walls of the houses. The masons bound the coral blocks together with mortar made from broken-up coral. I really need to do something cool for [[Worldbuilding Magazine]] about taking inspiration from diverse places, for example coral architecture. ### ch06p255 Great Zimbabwe > It was a city closely integrated with its surrounding countryside. Narrow pathways, dusty in the dry season and muddy in the wet, would have led in intricate aways among the crowded houses. Wandering dogs nobody much cared for, chickens scavenging in the winding walkways between the houses, and goaths tethered at doorways would have been among the sights and background noisemakers of city life. In the later afternoon, hundreds of cooking fires would have added to the melange of strong smells that filled the air and, if the air wa still, would haev created something much like smog. Wonderful description of a pre-industrial city that I should adapt for prose about [[Uskune]]. ### ch06p263 > Currency in the form of copper crosses came into use among the peoples of the pper Congo Basin and the Congo-Zambezi waterhsed region in the late first millennium CE and continued to be a common means of exchange down to the beginning of the colnial period. Useful for the [[Alternatives to Money|Currency Alternatives]] seed and I really need to include a currency subsection in the [[economics]] moc. Because this is later than I expected for non coin usage even after the [[Coins and Commodity Money]] conversation. ### ch06p264 Political and Economic Growth in the Upemba Depression, 600-1100 > Another important aspect of economic exchange in the upper Lualaba regions involved the exploitation of acquatic resources found int he lakes and bayous of the heart of the Upemba Depression. At an early period, regular public works were undertaken by communities along the waterways. They built up levees, on whichi they situated their villages, adn they periodically cleared floating vegetation from the different stream channels. In this way they controlled and maintained the mix of open stream and riverbank environments they needed. Because they were relatively inaccessible in the bayou, the riverine villages retained a greeat deal of economic autonomy. Their more amle supplies of fish and also fo reeds, valued as material for thatching, basketry, and mat making, attracted people from many other areas, who in return for payment in goods or copper currency were allowed by the river villagers to come and use their resources. This is the first mention I've seen of a "payment for access" economy, a la modern apple picking farms... basically anywhere in the ancient world. ### ch06p265 > Did the Upemba kings perhaps seek legitimization by claiming a role as the protectors of the riverine resources and as patrons of the public works that kept the various courses of the Lualaba clear and flowing? We don't know. This is basically [[Irella]]'s goal, though. ### ch06p276 Kalenjin and Maa-Ongamo Peoples along the Eastern Rift, 300-1000. > By the first millennium CE, most of the Kalenjin communities had dropped the generational component and expanded the age-sets to 15 years from 10 years. They dropped down to recognizing two adult life stages for males, *muren* (young man) and *payyan* (elder man). The muren had responsibility for (among other things) defending the community and raiding other communities for cattle. Because they were muren for longer, they were able to exert military pressure on their neighbors and defend themselves better. This let them expand. Weirdly brilliant but also kind of sad. ### ch06p279 Markets, Agricultural Innovation, and Ethnic Shift in Kilimanjaro, 1000-1450. <blockquote class=paraphrase>Two factors greatly facilitated this development of regular markets. First, the different environments meant that different people produced different things. Second, iron ore and good clay were unevenly distributed. </blockquote> > The Chaga in particular followed a practice we know also from the Konso peoples of Ethopia: the kept cattle in stalls and fed them there, to make it easier to collect the manure for their fields. The Temple of [[The Gardener]] should probably get farmers in Nahria to do this. ### ch06p281 groups of young men were used for communal labor > The chief had the right to use the age-sets as communal labor in building and maintaining irrigation works; he was the "arranger" or "planner" of public works, and in his language, these words were the origin for "chief," *mangi.* I love this from an [[Infrastructure in Ancient Civilizations]] point of view. ### ch06p285 Environment, Economy, and Political Change among the Great Lakes, to 1450. > In the process, the kings increased the size of their own herds such that they could loan out cattle to selected followers and to redistribute cattle captured in war to those who had fought for them. Because the ability to pay a dowry in cattle tot he bride's family was by this time becoming essential for the man who wanted to make a socially advantageous marriage, the kings now could use cattle redistribution to create a network of clients beholden to them and to their authority. It's cattle rustling x early feudalism. There are some interesting parallels to Vikings here, too. But mostly my big takeaway is that leadership and power in history around this time period in much of the world was roughly "I'm going to take stuff and give it to my soldiers to build a power base so I can take more stuff." ## ch07 Northeastern, West, and North Africa: The Middle Centuries, 300-1450 ### ch07p292 The Ethopian Highlands: Feudalism and Christianity in the North, 300-1270 <blockquote class=paraphrase>Unlike European feudalism, in Aksum, land belonged to the peasantry who worked it. Aksum's rule had been imposed on top of the older land tenure system of the Agaw without much change. When a lord got control of the *gwult* (fief), he got the right to a proportion (usually 20%) of the production of the peasants living on that land and the right to be the ruler and magistrate over the people there. But the ownership of the land continued to be vested in the families living on it—who were able to negotiate how much they owed. As feudalism became more entrenched, the merchant class died out, and the only merchants seen were foreigners.</blockquote> Relevant for the [[feudalism]] v. [[hacienda]] article stem. ### ch07p296 The Ethopian Highlands: Political Relations and Commerce in the Eastern Areas, 300-1270 > East of the rift valley, alternative kinds of governance existed. Among the ancestral Oromo society, the institutions of the *gada*, or age-grade, republic served to hold together man thousands of people in a single political unit. Farther east, int he lowlands and mountains of the eastern Horn of Africa, a myriad of clan-based communities of the old Afrasan style, owing social and religious respect to a hereditary clan head, persisted. - [i] Used for [[Unusual Governments To Take Inspiration From]]. ## ch08 The Early Atlantic Age, 1450-1640 > New kings of currency, including a type of copper ring called a "manila" and later on different kinds of iron bar, all manufactured in Europe, took hold in the coastal West African milieu. The Portuguese and later Dutch helped bring about the slow devaluation of the older West African cowry shell currency by shipping immense numbers of cowries directly by sea from the Indian Ocean to West Africa. 407. I wonder what the implications of this sort of devaluation are for the end of the gold standard, see also my ongoing rants about gold and inflation and people who want the gold standard back being dumb. 408. Relevant for the [[Alternatives to Money|Currency Alternatives]] thing.