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Topic subjectWestern african intellectual achievements
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6382, Western african intellectual achievements
Posted by Sopdet, Thu Nov-14-02 05:57 PM
It is a little known fact that smallpox inoculation was used in Africa long before the procedure was discovered in Europe

Located in the Mandara Mountains of northern Cameroon, the strongholds range in size from small standalone structures, to complex, castle-sized fortresses with platforms, terraces and covered passageways. The curving walls on some of the larger strongholds are over six metres high and strong enough to serve as defensive barricades, although their exact function is still unknown. (For print-quality photos, see <http://www.fp.ucalgary.ca/unicomm/news/strongholds/camphotos.html>. A slideshow is at <http://www.mandaras.info/StrongholdsNCameroon/sld001.htm> and includes detailed commentary.)
Benin's 8th Wonder
The world's largest earthworks system, 10,000 miles long, covering over 2,500 square miles and consisting of more than 500 interconnected communal enclosures, is under investigation by archaeologist Dr. Patrick Darling, according to The Independent Newspaper (UK).
Second in length only to the Great Walls of China, these ramparts, 60ft high in parts, located in Southern Nigeria is thought to have been created over a 500 year period by the Edo people of West Africa before they were overrun by the Benin Empire in the 15th century. (More on this to come in future editions of GAP News)
From GAP News April 1994

Barry applied Western surgical techniques, nineteenth-century travelers in Africa reported instances of indigenous people successfully carrying out the procedure with their own medical practices. In 1879, for example, one British traveller, R.W. Felkin, witnessed cesarean section performed by Ugandans. The healer used banana wine to semi-intoxicate the woman and to cleanse his hands and her abdomen prior to surgery. He used a midline incision and applied cautery to minimize hemorrhaging. He massaged the uterus to make it contract but did not suture it; the abdominal wound was pinned with iron needles and dressed with a paste prepared from roots. The patient recovered well, and Felkin concluded that this technique was well-developed and had clearly been employed for a long time. Similar reports come from Rwanda, where botanical preparations were also used to anesthetize the patient and promote wound healing

Iron technology did not come to Africa from western Asia via Carthage
or Merowe as was long thought, concludes "Aux origines de la
métallurgie du fer en Afrique, Une ancienneté méconnue: Afrique de
l'Ouest et Afrique centrale". The theory that it was imported from
somewhere else, which - the book points out - nicely fitted colonial
prejudices, does not stand up in the face of new scientific
discoveries, including the probable existence of one or more centres
of iron-working in west and central Africa and the Great Lakes area.

But the facts speak for themselves. Tests on material excavated since
the 1980s show that iron was worked at least as long ago as 1500 BC
at Termit, in eastern Niger, while iron did not appear in Tunisia or
Nubia before the 6th century BC. At Egaro, west of Termit, material
has been dated earlier than 2500 BC, which makes African metalworking
contemporary with that of the Middle East.


In 1721, Cotton Mather, who learned about smallpox inoculations from a slave named Onesimus, urged doctors in the community to begin inoculating healthy s laves against the disease. Dr. Zabdiel Boylston was the first doctor to take action. After he administered the smallpox vaccine to 250 slaves and his own son, the death rate dropped from one in 12 to about one in 40


He'd seen it first hand in his African servant. The man showed Mather his smallpox scar and told him that you
... take the Juice of the Small Pox, and Cut the Skin and put in a drop: then by 'nd by a little Sick, then a few Small Pox; and no body dye of it; no body have Small Pox any more.
is an excerpt from a letter that Cotton Mather wrote in December 1716, wherein he accounts for where he got the knowledge of smallpox inoculation :
"I do assure you, that many months before I mett with any Intimations of treating ye Small-Pox, with ye Mehods of Inoculation, any where in Europe, I had from a Servant of my own, an Account of its being practiced in Africa. Enquiring of my Negro-man, Anesimus, who is a pretty intelligent Fellow, Whether he ever had ye Small-Pox; he answered, both Yes and No; and then told me, that he had undergone an operation, which had given him something of ye Small-Pox, and would forever preserve him from it; adding, That it was often used among ye Guramantese, & whoever had ye courage to use it, was forever free from ye fear of the Contagion. He described ye operation to me, and shew'd me in his Arm ye Scar, which it left upon him."

The Scar on the African's Arm", Hippocrates (magazine), March/ April 1989 issue
. Lynch and Robbins (1983) analyse evidence from Namoratunga, a megalithic site in northwestern Kenya, that suggests that a prehistoric calendar based on detailed astronomical knowledge was in use in eastern Africa (c.300 B.C.). ------------------------------------------------------- <http://tycho.as.utexas.edu/~wheel/africa/bibliography.htm> James Cornell. "The First Stargazers: An Introduction to the Origins of Astronomy," New York: Scribner, 1981 Chapter " Light on the Dark Continent " presents archaeoastronomical information on Africa. Mentions Namoratunga... Doyle, Laurance R., and Thomas J. Wilcox. "Statistical Analysis of Namoratunga: An Archaeoastronomical Site in Sub-Saharan Africa?" Journal of the British Institute in Eastern Africa. 1986, pp. 125-128. Article about the argument over the Namoratunga II site. Its legitimacy as an archaeoastronomical site. Lynch, B.M., and Robbins, L.H. "Namoratunga: The First Archaeoastronomical Evidence in Sub-Saharan Africa," Science. May 1978: 766-768. Article about the Namoratunga II site and evidence that shows its archaeoastronomical implications. Paul, G. "The Astronomical Dating of a Northeast African Stone Configuration," The Observatory, 1980: 206-209. Article on the calculations of the precessions of the seven stars relevant to the Namoratunga II site. -------------------------------------------- <http://tycho.as.utexas.edu/~wheel/africa/comparison.htm>
Ivan Van Sertima, in 300 BC, Africans in Namoratunga, Kenya built an astronomical observatory that enabled them to create the most accurate prehistoric calendar ever discovered. Most African languages have complex concepts of time and tense, expressing a strong sense of the relationship between the present, the distant past, the recent past and the future
African south of the Sahara lived largely in nomadic, hunter-gatherer groups up until 200 BC. As a result, African populations were very sparse. There are several speculations as to why sub-Saharan Africans remained in hunting-gathering groups, but they are all guess-work. Perhaps the most reasonable explanations involve the abundance of resources and the protection that their isolation gave them from invasion and migration pressures.

Still, early sub-Saharan Africans developed metallurgy at a very early stage, possibly even before other peoples. Around 1400 BC, East Africans began producing steel in carbon furnaces (steel was invented in the west in the eighteenth century


1999 "Africa's storied past. Once a "People Without History," Africans explore a vibrant precolonial landscape"", Archaeology . 52 (4)(1999): 54-60, 83
or too long, many scholars dismissed Africa as a cultural backwater unworthy of serious study. But 50 years of archaeology have shown that the continent has pottery thousands of years older than that of the Near East and Europe, true steel two and a half millennia before its nineteenth-century European "invention," and urban civilizations without despots and wars. These are more than just African insights; they are fundamental revelations about how humans have interacted with each other and their environment and how societies have changed in the past.

In 1897, "several hundred bronze plaques ... of really superb casting" and "magnificently carved tasks" were found in Benin. Europeans as usual speculated they were of European influence.17 A palace in Ife a hundred miles away yielded vast quantities of brasswork and terra cotta. The works of Benin and Ife are now accepted as entirely African and most are thought to have been made between the 13th and 18th centuries.18 11 Poe, p421,Richard Poe, Black Spark White Fire

<http://www.millersv.edu/~deidam/m301/yor1.htm> A Number System for Mathematicians Only "One must be a mathematician to learn this complex system" - Cladia Zaslavsky in Africa Counts The Republic of Nigeria is the most populous country of Africa, with 1/3 the population of the USA in 1/10 of its area. It is the historical site of several highly advanced civilzations, including the Nok (500 BC - 200 AD) and Benin (15th-17th c.). 21% of the people are Yorubas, most living in western Nigeria and preserving their old traditions. They were always a trading people, originally with the Islamic peoples from northern Africa who brought knowledge from the great Islamic University at Timbuktu in Mali (today 45% of Nigerians are Islamic). And they had a unit of currency long before the Europeans, the cowrie shell (sometimes, "cowry" - a spiral-shelled snail). The Yoruba number system is extraordinarily complex,... The Yorubas could handle fractions and powers: 1/2 idaja 1/4 idamerin 4^2 erin lona meji 4^4 erin lona merin As a consequence of the complexity of the Yorubas' number system, they became very efficient at mental calculation, a skill useful for going to the market and for bargaining. -------------------------------------------- <http://www.emporia.edu/scimath/catalog/mul0006.htm> Title: Africa Counts Author: Zaslavsky, Claudia Series: None Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books (LAWRENCE) Media Type: Printed Material, Guide (PRT/GUI) (PG) Copyright: 1990 Subject: Mathematics (MAT) Grade Level: Sixth Grade through Adult Notes: Description: Described here for the first time is the contribution of African peoples to the science of mathematics. Using numbers and patterns as organizing principles, the author describes the numeration systems - some highly comples - the mystical attributes of numbers, geometry in art and architecture and mathematical games, all of which reveal a highly developed understanding of math. She uses photos, graphs, diagrams, personal ancedotes and quotations from African literature and oral tradition to document this important contribution to a hitehrto little-known aspect of African culture. ----------------------------------------- <http://ernie.bgsu.edu/~vrickey/mini/bib-katz.html>

The North African traveler and historian, Leo Africanus, wrote of Timbuktu in the early sixteenth century: "Here are a great store of doctors, judges, priests and other learned men, that are bountifully maintained at the king's cost and charges." - From page 275 of _Africa Counts_ by Claudia Zaslavsky. -------------------------------------
Peter Schmidt, an anthropologist (professor of Anthropology), and Donald Avery, a metallurgist (Professor of Engineering)
_HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY - A STRUCTURAL Approach in an African Culture_ 1978 by Peter Schmidt. Page 243, chapter IRON-WORKING EVIDENCE: "The significance of a complex technological procedure such as preheating in the Early Iron Age is considerable. This process was not perfected in Europe until the mid-nineteenth (19th) century". Iron Technology in East Africa: Symbolism, Science, and Archaeology. Indiana University Press, 1997. Available at 19.95 in paperback. The Culture and Technology of African Iron Production. Univ. Presses of Florida, 1996.
Peter R. Schmidt assisted by D. H. Avery More Evidence for an Advanced Prehistoric Iron Technology in Africa Journal of Field Archaeology 10 (1983) 421--434 Excavation in 1977 at the KM2 site near Kemondo Bay west of Lake Victoria in Kagera Region, Tanzania, provided abundant evidence of an ancient technology, dating to the first six centuries A.C., that shared many similarities to the living iron-smelting technology. Excavations during 1978--1979 at the KM3 site, also located near Kemondo Bay, yielded physical evidence for the antiquity of the preheated process and provided definitive proof for a technology similar to the process in historical times. These discoveries affirm that one of the most advanced technologies in the ancient world developed in Africa independent of European influence. ------------------------------------------------- <http://tc.unl.edu/tcforum/nott.3.html> The Origins of Smelting More than 1500 years ago, Africans in the vicinity of Lake Victoria "produced carbon steel in preheated forced-draft furnaces, a method that was technologically more sophisticated than any developed in Europe until the mid-nineteenth century" (Shore, 1991). Peter Schmidt, an anthropologist, and Donald Avery, a metallurgist, both from Brown University, investigated the steel making techniques of the modern Haya tribe from Tanzania who recieved their knowledge of iron smelting through oral traditions passed down over many centuries. Schmidt stated that "We have found a technological process in the African Iron Age which is exceedingly complex... To be able to say that a technologically superior culture developed in Africa more than 1500 years ago overturns popular and scholarly ideas that technological sophistication developed in Europe but not Africa" (Shore, 1991).
Some writers have concluded on the basis of available records that in the fifteenth century, the level of culture among the masses of black people in West Africa was higher than that of Northern Europe during the same period. - From page 276 of 275 of _Africa Counts_ by Claudia Zaslavsky. -----------------------------------------------------------------
GERZE is a *very* incompletely known script of Senegal. Only about 10 signs are recorded

"The discovery of this boat is an important landmark in the history of Nigeria in particular and Africa in general" says Eluyemi.

Besides proving that the Nigerian society was at par(if not earlier) than that of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Minoa and Phoenicia, the discovery also provides the first concrete evidence that Africans possessed the ability to reason and have been exploring technology to modify their environment to suit their needs.

But more importantly "the canoe has shown that people in the Niger area had a history of advanced technology and that they had mastered the three major items of Paleolithic culture which were the fashioning, standardization and utilization of tools according to certain set traditions," explains Eluyemi.

But beyond that, the discovery has also revealed that, Nigerians were not static people. "It gives concrete evidence of transportation by seas as well as providing evidence of some form of long distance commercial activities indicative of existing political and economic structures."

One great benefit of the discovery is that it has helped archaeologists draw a relationship between what was happening in Nigeria and else where in the world during that period. Indications are that while Nigerians were making canoes in Dufuna village in 6000 BC, the people of Catol Huyuk in Turkey were making pottery, textiles etc, like the people of Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) were forming urban communities and the Chinese were making painted pottery in the Yang Shao region. But particularly of interest to archaeologists is the prove that some form of advanced civilization existed in the Lake Chad Basin around 6000 BC."

Documentation has showed that based on the minimal available technology during this period, the making of the Dufuna canoe must have been a ponderous task which called for mastery, specialization and ingenuity. A lot of work, man hours and skill must also have been put into the production since no iron tools were in existence at the time. The tools used were probably Post Pleistocene ungrounded core axe - like and pick - axe bifacial tools of microlithic appearance. It can be assumed that the canoe must have been made near a river to eliminate the difficulty of transporting it over long distances.
Bigger than pyramids
Dr Darling has walked its length.
Dr Patrick Darling fears that the site might not last much longer
"In terms of sheer size it's the largest single monument in Africa - larger than any of the Egyptian pyramids," he says.
The ditch is 160 km (100 miles) long, and in places 20 metres (70 feet) deep.
"Built long before the mechanical era, it was all hand-built, requiring a large labour force and a well co-ordinated labour force working to a master plan," Dr Darling explains.
We make our way through thick tropical vegetation down to the bottom of the Eredo - its smooth walls tower above on either side of us, glowing green with moss.
It is cool and dark, with patches of sunlight filtering through the trees above.
Dr Darling has compiled an immense amount of data on the Eredo, but even he does not know why it was built.
Perhaps to keep elephants out, or as protection against foreign invaders - or perhaps to mark the territorial extent of the Ijebu-Ode kingdom at a time when the rival city states of the Yoruba people were frequently at war with each other.
That's more than the largest earth work in northern europe caleld ofra's dyke

Stone heads recall Africa's forgotten past

By: Matthew Bunce
GOHITAFLA, Ivory Coast (ReuterBroadcasted on BICNews 10 February s) - When Bernadette Vouinan tripped over a rock with eyes and a nose in 1982, she unearthed one of the first of more than 1,000 ancient stone head sculptures to emerge from Ivory Coast's pre-historic soil.
The origin of the heavy granite and laterite stones of up to three feet high and 2,000 years old remains a mystery. But some villagers have no doubts, even challenging theories on East Africa's Rift Valley as the cradle of mankind.
``We believe they were created and placed in the earth here by God,'' said one farmer in the remote Marahoue valley in central Ivory Coast where many of the heads have been found. Such lore attributes flattened rocks found there to the creator's footprints as he stepped back to heaven.
Farmers are often less star-struck, selling any heads they find to tourists for a pittance.
Ivorian anthropologists staging an exhibition in the commercial capital Abidjan this month hope to dispel myths and spur a wider interest in promoting Africa's forgotten past.
``It means we have had art for a long time,'' said leading anthropologist Georges Niangoran-Bouah, chief researcher on Marahoue. ``And where there is art there is civilization.''
The problem is that West Africa's tropical climate means clues to history often rot, leaving only rich oral tradition.
``We Africans say man was not made in a day. And the most important part of man is the head,'' Niangoran-Bouah told Reuters.
Folklore says the myriad facial designs -- many Marahoue heads have no mouth, nose or eyes -- are but one sign of God's use of Marahoue as a human test-bed. Later carvings with busts and full figures show man's head at one third rather than one seventh of his height.
``African artists think God must have made a mistake,'' said Niangoran-Bouah, holding a giant-nosed head nicknamed Charles de Gaulle, one of his garden collection of 200 stones.
The faces, once used in mask rituals, are said to have been buried by God to protect women and children from seeing them.
But some village wives have more pressing domestic concerns.
``They are very good. They withstand the heat,'' said one cook who was using three around a fire to support her pots at Diacohou.
The heads have yet to be accurately dated but similar stones in Senegal date back as far as 2,000 years.
``No one knows what role the heads played in ancient times,'' Niangoran-Bouah said.
``They are not the work of men known to us or our ancestors,'' said Ta-bi-Tra, a hunter at Gohitafla, now inhabited by Ivorian President Henri Konan Bedie's ruling Baoule tribe. Baoule warriors arrived there under Queen Abla Pokou in the 17th century, displacing Gouro tribes who in turn had pushed out the Wan culture in the 15th century.
``The Wan consider them to be ancestral objects,'' said Niangoran-Bouah, citing the stories of nearby Wan descendants, including a theory that the heads betrayed them to the enemy.
The heads are also seen as grave charms for Wan warriors, homes for dead mens' souls or guardian spirits and talismans.
``We make offerings for a safe voyage, to find a good partner or fight off evil sorcerers, eaters of souls, jealous people and poisoners,'' said one soothsayer. ``We trust them.''
Animal sacrifices in cult rituals ensured successful childbirth and stone heads still play a part in ritual exorcisms and purification of adulterers. One man described being inhabited by a spirit from stones surrounding his house. ``I have 13 children, they all come from the stones.''
Prehistoric stone heads have been found around the world, from Africa to Europe and America. Marahoue's are thought to be among the largest and oldest along Africa's Atlantic coast.
Ivorian standing stones are larger than average and found deeper in the ground than similar African examples, suggesting a greater age of up to 7,000 years, Niangoran-Bouah said.
Such African megaliths weighing between half a ton and 15 tons are found in a northwestern strip on the Mediterranean and pockets in a wide west-east sub-Saharan band between Senegal and Kenya. Villagers showed Reuters a 19-foot rock said to be one of the largest African megaliths.
In Mali, to the north, anthropologists have been baffled by the Dogon culture's ability to predict cycles of an invisible satellite of the star Sirius, which appears every 60 years. The Dogon, whose God Amma is said to have thrown a ball of clay into space to create Earth, is just one example of deep civilization in Africa often brushed over by colonists.
``This civilization before the pre-colonial period honorsour country,'' Niangoran-Bouah said. ``During colonial times the stones were probably kept hidden in the forest. The whites did not see them.''
That, for better or worse, is no longer the case.
© Copyright 1998, Reuters News Service
www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews...story1.htm <http://www.iol.ie/~afifi/BICNews/History/history1.htm>

6383, you killing 'em
Posted by k_orr, Thu Nov-14-02 07:41 PM
good reading.
6384, lovely. and ARCHIVE worthy
Posted by poetx, Thu Nov-14-02 10:00 PM
for documentary value. were all these in one place, or are you responsible for pulling together the different information? some i already knew about, like the c-sections being practiced in africa before in europe, and the fact that the oldest evidence of iron smelting is found in africa, but the smallpox vaccination thing blew me away. i imagine they were already familiar with homeopathy (one of my herbal-heads back me up on that one), and i guess this takes that concept to the next lev. its ironic as hell that that was culled from 'hippocrates' magazine, given his debt to (ok, plagiarism from), the 'god' aesculapius (his momma name him Imhotep, i'ma call him Imhotep). its cool that this posted info focuses on western africa (although, on the medical tip, i'll point out for giggles that in kmt/egypt its been proven that they were using tetracycline in ancient times as part of their advanced pharmacology).

peace & blessings,

6385, RE: lovely. and ARCHIVE worthy
Posted by Sopdet, Thu Nov-14-02 10:25 PM
proven that they were using tetracycline in ancient times as part of their advanced pharmacology

Yeap,nubians used it to in meroe.

Reaching for Sudan's Buried History

Panafrican News Agency (Dakar)

April 9, 2001
Posted to the web April 10, 2001

Yahya El Hassan
Khartoum, Sudan

Archaeologists in Sudan have celebrated a number of outstanding
ancient discoveries in the 2000-2001 excavation season as they
continue to unravel the country's buried history.

The latest excavations were conducted from early October through late
March, the cool season that suits archaeologists unaccustomed to the
hot summer of Sudan.

In focus was the monumental heritage of Napata and Merowe kingdoms of
ancient Sudan, both of them in the far north of the country.

A temple built by King Akhenaton for the worship of god Amon was
unearthed in Kerma, the capital of the Napata Kingdom that spans from
2500 to 1500 before Christ (BC). Kerma is some 200km south of the
Sudan-Egypt border.

According to Hassan Hussein, director of the National Corporation for
Antiquities and Museums (NCAM), the temple dates back to 1400 BC.
This period is known in Sudan's ancient history as the period when
Egyptian kings conquered and ruled Sudan.

Losing confidence in the multitude of gods worshipped in his kingdom,
Akhenaton unified all gods in one whom he named Amon. The link is
obvious between the words Amon and Amen.

The discovery was made by a mission of archaeologists from

Among their findings were the temple, a number of houses in its
surroundings, a furnace for copper smelting, an earthen brick
workshop, a cemetery, human skeletons, earthen pottery, stamps and

There was also a collection of shaving razors, bronze weapons, golden
and silver jewellery, cushions and fans made of ostrich feathers as
well as a wooden bed in the shape of a standing horse, all coated in
gold. Some fragments of damaged statues were also unearthed.

A grave of one of the kingdom's princes was found in the vicinity of
the temple. Fortifications representing complex defence systems were
also found in the area.

Beneath the temple are several walls of baked mud bricks. Chalk was
used to make brick walls adhere.

Another landmark discovery was a building in the monumental area of
Musawwarat el Safra, one of the major cities of the Merowite Kingdom
of 800BC - 350AD, located 140km north of Khartoum and about 60km
south of the kingdom's capital in Bajrawiyya.

The building was discovered by a mission from the German
Archaeological Society led by Prof. Stefan Weing.

During a public lecture that attracted a wide audience in Khartoum
last week, Weing, using slide photographs, elaborately described what
his team unearthed.

"The monument is an enclosure that contained a garden, a number of
houses and a number of animal sheds.

"This represents a very sophisticated gardening system with a unique
irrigation technique in which pipes made of stone carried later from
a reservoir into canals built of bricks and then to the gardens," he

In the same area, Weing's team also came across an iron smelting
furnace and another for burning bricks.

"Iron smelting required the burning of a lot of firewood and that
might have caused the environmental degradation in this area that is
now an endless series of sand dunes," he observed.

The findings suggest that environmental degradation might have caused
the downfall of the Merowite kingdom.

Also, an ancient regional city of the Merowite Kingdom has been
discovered near the town of Berber, some 300km north of Khartoum.

NCAM excavations director, Salah Mohammed Ahmed said the 150 square
km city dates back to the second century BC.

The discovery was made by archaeologists from NCAM and the Ontario
Royal Museum in Canada.

Ahmed said digging will continue to unearth, but the work might take

Kerma, Musawwarat el Safra, Bajrawiyya and Jebel el Barkal are
Sudan's important tourist attractions because of previous monumental
discoveries such as pyramids, temples and statues in these areas.

"We are about to conduct a nation-wide archaeological survey with aim
of drawing an archaeological map for the country," NCAM director
Hassan Hussein said.

"We want to close missing links and fill in the gaps in ancient
history," Hussein told PANA, explaining that priority was on areas
proposed for construction of dams and highways.

Hussein holds a conviction that civilisation started in Africa.
"Discoveries made in Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia - all
of them indicate human civilisation started here in Africa," he said.

Sudan's archaeologists, however, find their efforts often frustrated
by antiquities thieves.

Hussein said masked thieves recently attacked a monument guard at
Bajrawiyya, but were unable to run away with anything.

In a bid to check such thefts, the Ministry of the Interior in
Khartoum set up a special police unit to protect the monuments.

Meanwhile, Hussein has appealed for cooperation of neighbouring
countries in detecting and preventing the smuggling of stolen


Copyright © 2001 Panafrican News Agency. Distributed by AllAfrica
Global Media (allAfrica.com).

Musawwarat el Safra, one of the major cities of the Merowite Kingdom
of 800BC - 350AD, located 140km north of Khartoum and about 60km
south of the kingdom's capital in Bajrawiyya.

The building was discovered by a mission from the German
Archaeological Society led by Prof. Stefan Weing.

During a public lecture that attracted a wide audience in Khartoum
last week, Weing, using slide photographs, elaborately described what
his team unearthed.

"The monument is an enclosure that contained a garden, a number of
houses and a number of animal sheds.

"This represents a very sophisticated gardening system with a unique
irrigation technique in which pipes made of stone carried later from
a reservoir into canals built of bricks and then to the gardens," he

In the same area, Weing's team also came across an iron smelting
furnace and another for burning bricks.

"Iron smelting required the burning of a lot of firewood and that
might have caused the environmental degradation in this area that is
now an endless series of sand dunes," he observed.

The findings suggest that environmental degradation might have caused
the downfall of the Merowite kingdom

Beer, Antibiotics, Ancient Nubia?!

Take two beers and call me in 1,600 years
Natural History; New York; May 2000; George J Armelagos

6386, RE: lovely. and ARCHIVE worthy
Posted by Sopdet, Thu Nov-14-02 10:33 PM
Pirogue is a wooden canoe used on the rivers of West Africa. Where trees are alrge enough, they are fabricated out of a single tree trunk, but in the Middle Niger Valey, they are made by sewing together planks of wood and packing the seams with rope and tar. Niger River pirogues are some times quite large and may displace as much as ten tons.

From here after two courses off the mainland lies the last mart of Azania, called Rhapta, which has its name from the sand tortoishell.

swahili traders also built boats called metepes,which had oars and sails.

6387, i'd asked before "WHY" -- just saw the other
Posted by poetx, Fri Nov-15-02 09:28 AM
post and know why now. this can be a gathering place for assholes sometimes.

search for "why kmt?" post in archives for more info about the value of *this* particular discussion. but its great to see this kind of info up. 'preciate it.

peace & blessings,

Posted by Quest4Knowledge, Fri Nov-15-02 02:40 PM
Thank you Sopdet, you have earned yourself an infinite number of cool points! Seriously, this large amount of information is nearly mind boggling seeing how this society by large carries the belif that Africa is and always has been a primitive, barbaric craphole full of savages.

The only thing that disturbs me is how so many people still believe this lie. But at least I know the truth now. Im going to take a while to soak in all of this as well as any other educating resources I can find.

Again, thanks!

Peace and Love
Posted by Sopdet, Tue Nov-19-02 06:23 AM
If you are interested quest for knowleadge you should check out a book by marq devillers call into africa and books by basil davidson.

Posted by Sopdet, Tue Nov-19-02 06:25 AM
please archive this

Posted by Surazal, Tue Nov-19-02 07:27 AM

>The only thing that disturbs me is how so many people still
>believe this lie. But at least I know the truth now

The Truth: herbal medicine, a canoe, giant stone heads and the world's biggest pile of dirt.


I'm not sure if you can call failing to realize the importance and potential of steel an "acheivement".

Oh - and Nubia wasn't in West Africa.
Posted by Ulysses S Grant, Mon Nov-25-02 06:31 AM
>>The only thing that disturbs me is how so many people still
>>believe this lie. But at least I know the truth now
>The Truth: herbal medicine, a canoe, giant stone heads and
>the world's biggest pile of dirt.

That is just funny. No way around it.
Posted by Quest4Knowledge, Mon Nov-25-02 09:53 AM
>>The only thing that disturbs me is how so many people still
>>believe this lie. But at least I know the truth now
>The Truth: herbal medicine, a canoe, giant stone heads and
>the world's biggest pile of dirt.
>I'm not sure if you can call failing to realize the
>importance and potential of steel an "acheivement".

You must be the dumbest person on this entire site. If you actually READ the entire post you'd realize the contribution of the continent to YOUR livelyhood.

When and if the terrorist strike with smallpox, who invented the original vaccine?

Not to mention the Pre-Historic astronimical observation built in Kenya which was HIGHLY accurate.

Plus the Urban , war-less Civilizations, the first C-Sections and Openheart sugerys, and contribution to mathematics and geometry.

>Oh - and Nubia wasn't in West Africa.

No one said it was. Sopdet pointed out a Nubian achievment in a responsive post.. not in the original.

Peace and Love
Posted by Sopdet, Mon Nov-25-02 10:22 PM
Engaruka: the success and abandonment of an integrated irrigation
system, c15th - 17th centuries
John Sutton
(abstract of paper published in Widgren and Sutton 1999
Situated in relatively arid terrain at the foot of the Rift wall in
northern Tanzania, but blessed with a permanent river and three
seasonal streams, Engaruka can appear as an oasis. Three to six
centuries ago a community of several thousand people thrived here on
irrigated agriculture. This is demonstrated by clear remains of stone-
divided and levelled fields, served by a network of stone-lined
canals and secondary furrows, covering over two-thousand hectares, as
well as seven concentrated village sites overlooking the fields. The
main crop was sorghum. Some cattle were kept in small enclosures; it
is deduced that they were stall-fed and their dung used as manure.
There is clear evidence for hydrological decline along this
escarpment during and since the life of old Engaruka. Some of the
villages and artery canals depended on streams, which are now much
too unreliable. The field system, moreover, underwent modifications,
with realignments and attempts to heighten the main canals. While
this illustrates the community's engineering abilities and labour
organisation, it suggests also the strain being experienced. In part
this may be due to the success of this cultivation system in a
special environment, the population reaching the maximum which could
be supported on the cultivable land which was circumscribed by the
local relief and the volume of water descending the escarpment
streams. Pressure to use the fields and to irrigate more intensively
would have led to diminishing returns through soil-exhaustion and
both surface and gully erosion, of which there are clear signs. One
might imagine this as a case of over-specialisation contributing to
the decline and eventual expiry of the system and its community.
The unanswered question is whether this environmental change was
entirely caused by this compact cultivating community while it
thrived, and in particular whether the escarpment's hydrology could
have been damaged by forest clearance in the hills for building and
domestic needs, or, contrarily, whether there was a declining trend
in rainfall in the middle and later centuries of the second
millennium. Independent researches in the region, both in the Rift
and especially in the Crater Highlands from which the Engaruka
streams derive, may help, if combined with precise dating techniques.
Engaruka was not exactly unique; there are a number of smaller sites
forming part of the same cultural and agricultural complex. While all
these are similarly deserted, some elements of the tradition survive
in the Sonjo villages to the north. These lack cattle and manuring,
and the dependence on irrigation has been less extreme than at
Engaruka. The history of Sonjo - cultural, agricultural and
environmental - might be approached by examining former village sites
and should assist the questions raised in Engaruka.

Konso Integrated Agriculture as social Process
Elizabeth Watson
(abstract presented in Widgren and Sutton, 1999 <../publications.htm>)
The intensive agriculture of Konso in south-western Ethiopia
integrates a variety of special techniques to support a large
population in a harsha nd upredictable semi -arid environment. these
include construction of labour intensive stone -walled terraces over
large areas of these hills, alongside square-ridged basins, zero-
grazing of animals with the application of manure to the fields, and
rain-water harvesting. This results in a permanently cultivated
landscape supporting large, walled and densly populated villages. to
understand this agricultural landscape it is necessary to appreciate
its embedded social and symbolic role, relating in particular to land
and labour.
This paper reviews on institution in Konso, which plays an important
role in the organisation of land and labour: the poqalla. These are
male hereditary leaders (previously described as clan or lineage
leaders and also priests). Their political and religious role is
inextricably related to thier control over land and labour. Through a
study of the poqallas, integrated agriculture can be seen as more
than just a set of techniques, but part of the social process of
Konso society.
The Ruins of Engaruka
conducted by Maasai warriors
Approximate Fee: US $10 Accommodation: basic campsite included Food:
women cook Guided by Maasai warriors, walk through the mysterious
ruined city of Engaruka and the surrounding scrubland. Located at the
foot of the Rift Valley Escarpment, Engaruka remains one of
Tanzania's most important historic sites. Over 500 years ago a
community of farmers developed a unique irrigation and cultivation
system channeling water from the Rift Escarpment into stone canals
and terraces. Although abandoned in the 1700s Engaruka illustrates a
once highly specialized and integrated agricultural community which
has been investigated by archeologists world-wide. Daywalks for
birdwatching at the foot and slopes of the Rift Valley Historic
visits to sites from the German colonial period A climb of Oldoinyo
Lengai, a semi-active volcanic mountain A view into the Maasai
culture, who continue a life of simplicity and peace Profits from
your visit are used to protect the ruined city of Engaruka




Engaruka <Back to Last Page> <Full Glossary
Definition: 15th to 16th century site in the Rift Valley of Tanzania,
including seven large villages with a complex stone-block irrigation
canal and intricate agricultural system.
Related Resources:

Some more African achievements

"Pitfall is one American version of the African game issued by Creative
Playthings. It is similar to Kalah, designed in 1940 by William Champion
and now manufactured by Products of the Behavioral Sciences. I
agree whole heatedly with John B. Haggerty, who writes: "the
best all around teaching aid in the country"(page 328), and later: "in
addition to its value as a diversion and as a means of developing the
intuitive abilities so important to problem-solving...
Page 131 of _Africa Counts_ by Zaslavsky, Claudia

Africans developed a game that is one of the greatest teaching tools

Morabaraba is a popular game in the African communities. Like Chess the
game needs one to think about the next several moves in the future.
AFRICAN MATHMATICAL UNION (Research and sources from White Europeans)


Crane's "African games of strategy" (1982) may be
added. Crane informs about some of the most common types of African games
involving strategy and mathematical principles, like games of alignment
(Shisima (Kenya), Achi (Ghana), Murabaraba (Lesotho)),
In sub-Sahara Africa Negroes dominate (over whites) in a intellectual game
like Chess called Morabaraba.


May 20, 1997

Our world champ you haven't met

Gilbert Magabotse is the world champion
morabaraba player. It's an African board game
once taught to herd boys, demanding cunning
and quick thinking.

Morabaraba is a tactical board game, involving cunning and mental agility,
which is played widely among rural African communities - sort of a cross
between draughts and speed chess.

It is not known how many South Africans play morabaraba on a recreational
basis, but it is believed to be many millions, and clubs are sprouting up
all over. "It is something traditionally South African we can be proud of,
but we need to get funding from the government to breathe life into it."
The South African War Games Union - which looks after tactical or
strategic computer and board games - shares his sentiment. It has taken
morabaraba, and other traditional games, under its protective umbrella to
promote them in schools and urban communities. Colin Webster, the union's
president, says the game is unstoppable: "It has been sidelined too long,
but we can redress the wrong by crediting previously disadvantaged people
for their excellence, allowing them to reach national prominence in a game
which they already play."

Webster, who is compiling an anthology on morabaraba, says ithas cultural
roots tied to the African concept of ubuntu: "While Western philosophy is
based on the principle, 'I think therefore I am', ubuntu says 'I am
because you are'. So while most Western games are based on beating the
opponent, morabaraba is about giving your opponent space to move in order
to win."

But Webster claims the built-in concept of helping the opponent (sounds
more like trapping to me) means that white players initially become very
lost, because they are out to win and find it frustrating. "I had a chess
master from Russia who looked at the game and said, 'This is easy.' He was
demolished by a 14-year-old."

Assegai Central
Wargaming Forum

The South African Wargames Union

The South African Wargames Union is the authorative body for all wargaming
in Southern Africa, including figure gaming, traditional games, and board

For more information feel free to contact SAWU President Colin Webster, at
wargames@iafrica.com or see their website at www.icon.co.za/~caliban

Famous South African Wargamers in action with SAWU:

These are photos of the Morabaraba team that traveled to Bangkok for the
2nd Traditional World Games, in December 1996. A team will represent
South Africa
again in the World Traditional Games, in France, next year.

Gilbert Magabotse from the Spoornet Morabara Club is the current World Champion.
Here's the Mpumulanga prize-giving, with Matthews Phosa handing over the

Thembinyana Hambiyana from Gauteng Draughts Association, our current
National Champion. The Morabaraba team journied to Bangkok for the 2nd
World Games, in December 1996 Lawrence Khashane.

afrcan version of chess

shax a somali game f stragey


Numerous megaliths or standing stones exist in the area around Bouar in what is now the Central African Republic, sometimes called the African Stonehenge. Possibly built as tombs, similar to the stone tombs found in Europe, little is known about these ancient monuments. Usually the stones are set up in groups and were placed near river sources or at the entrances of valleys. The huge stones are typically 1.5 to 2 metres high, but some are up to 5 metres tall and weigh 4 tons. In the native language, these monuments are called tajunu.

Gambian stone circles of Senegambia

Required much work force and also the usd simple machines which most white supremist claim no western african did

Also not only that it diminstartes that western Africans cut stone and also qurried stone which also white supremis claim western aficas did not do

Posted by Sopdet, Mon Nov-25-02 11:13 PM
Many Africa americans wil often say that why should I look back on Africa?? Well,here is soe of the reasons why which very many people don't realize. Eropeans think that Africans before they arrivedwere savage with out any skills at all,which tis is not exactly true,bt t still continues on in the minds of many Americans.

Slaes who came here to America did process skills that were indeed veryvaluabe to pre industrialize3d soceity such as metalurgy,whic African blacksmiths had mastered before Eurepans arrived on te shores o Africa. African bcksmiths in anyguards developed better hoes and farm tools thaneuropeans developed.
Africans in Africa actually woked with better hoes wich was given to them in America,which african blacksmiths also made other thingslike fish hooks,bridle bits for horses and even nails.
Europeans also demanded slaves whoi knew how to cultivate rice,which many europeans did not know how,and even though europeans gt this form asians,Africans had grown rice for eos going back to the settlementsat djenne.

Knowleadge oi rice cltivation bosted up the south carlinaeconomy and heped develop it.


Judith Carney, "Rice, Slaves, and Landscapes of Cultural Memory" <http://www.cr.nps.gov/crdi/conferences/AFR_43-62_Carney.pdf>
Candice L. Goucher "The Memory of Iron: African Technologies in the Americas" <http://www.cr.nps.gov/crdi/conferences/AFR_63-68_Goucher.pdf>

Also many of the slaves that came re to america had cattle herding skills whic benefited slave masters,and

Most slaves ended up in the plantations and mines of the Americas, while those slaves from West Africa were valued for their skills in herding, metallurgy, & agriculture

. COWBOYS: That's right, cowboys. The cowboy culture didn't come from England or France. Here's what Peter H. Wood has to say: "The annual north- south migratory pattern followed by the cowboy is unlike the cattle-keeping patterns in Europe but analagous to the migratory patterns of the Fulani cattle herders who live scattered from the Senegambia through Nigeria and Niger to the Sudan. " (Black Majority, pp. 29-31)

some facts about early africna american acoplishments before the civil war


You see, shotgun houses gave us the southern porch. We didn't previously have porches like that in America. Like the shotgun house itself, southern porches are now all over America.

So the next time you see those rows of small linear houses in poor neighborhoods, consider what you're really seeing. These are the remains of an African technology that reached considerable elegance among people of middle means in the 19th century.

Southern blacksmiths used to make "nigger hoes" that were almost twice as
heavy as the ones they sold to white small farmers who worked their own
land? One of the _very_ few outlets for slaves' rage and resentment was
breaking tools--so heavier and more expensive tools were made for them.
If any of you have ever spent a day (or even an hour) swinging a hoe, you
know that every ounce counts in terms of efficiency of weeding. In fact,
hoes are _the_ traditional farm tool of West Africa, and African native
smiths make hoes that were lighter and better made than the ones their
enslaved cousins ended up using in America.

Small Pox inoculation
Cure for debilitating skin disease yaws
Oldest table of prime numbers.
Banjo musical Instrument
Oldest Astronomical Megalith Alignments
Jazz music

1. Small Pox inoculation
Chronology of Achievements
of African Americans in Medicine
Onesimus, an enslaved African, describes to Cotton Mather the
African method of inoculation against smallpox. The
technique, later used to protect American Revolutionary War
soldiers, is perfected in the 1790's by British doctor
Edward Jenner's use of a less virulent organism.
Duke University

2. Cure for debilitating skin disease yaws
all of the slave doctor's patients were well in two weeks
none of those treated with mercury
University of Michigan

3. Oldest table of prime numbers.
Some say that the Ishango Bone is the oldest table of prime numbers.

The most interesting, of a large number of tools discovered in 1960 at
Ishango, is a bone tool handle called the Ishango Bone (now located on
the 19th floor of the Royal Institute for Natural Sciences of Belgium
in Brussels, and can only be seen on special demand). At one end of
the Ishango Bone is a piece of quartz for writing, and the bone has a
series of notches carved in groups (shown below). It was first thought
these notches were some kind of tally marks as found to record counts
all over the world. However, the Ishango bone appears to be much more
than a simple tally. The markings on rows (a) and (b) each add to 60.
Row (b) contains the prime numbers between 10 and 20. Row (a) is quite
consistent with a numeration system based on 10, since the notches are
grouped as 20 + 1, 20 - 1, 10 + 1, and 10 - 1. Finally, row (c) seems
to illustrate for the method of duplication (multiplication by 2) used
more recently in Egyptian multiplication. Recent studies with
microscopes illustrate more markings and it is now understood the bone
is also a lunar phase counter. Who but a woman keeping track of her
cycles would need a lunar calendar? Were women our first

J. de Heinzelin, Ishango, Scientific American, 206:6 (June 1962)
J. Shurkin, Engines of the mind: a history of the computer, W. W.
Norton & Co., 1984., p21
J. Bogoshi, K. Naidoo and J. Webb, The oldest mathematical artifact,
Math. Gazette, 71:458 (1987) 294.
State University of New York at Buffalo

4. Banjo music Instrument
The banjo, now associated primarily with the bluegrass music popular
among white Southerners, was originally an instrument used in African
religious ceremonies. Southern slaves adapted the instrument to suit
secular (nonreligious) musical styles in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The banjo is a plucked string instrument that has a long fretted neck
piercing a circular frame over which a membrane is tightened with
thumb screws, often containing a resonator over the open back. A
descendant of the West African long-necked lute, it came to the
Americas with the slave trade.
The xalam of Senegal, a plucked lute, is thought to be a close
relative of the African-American banjo.
Copyright 1995 by Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc. Grolier

5. Oldest Astronomical Megalith Alignments of Nubia the possible
antecedent for the Egyptian Pyramids and high culture.
University of Colorado
© 1998 by the Archaeological Institute of America
Archaeological Institute of America
-- Scientific American

6. jazz
jazz, the most significant form of musical expression of
African-American culture and arguably the most outstanding
contribution the United States has made to the art of music.

Origins of Jazz

6396, ARCHIVE!
Posted by Allah, Tue Nov-19-02 06:45 AM
Great Post. Thank You. Peace.
6397, RE: your great
Posted by jenNjuice, Mon Nov-25-02 01:35 AM
i think i like u


~i hate you 2 lil nihgha,you aint my son~-snoop

"Then Columbus didn't find anything, he was simply lost. if I take a boat to England once I get there, regardless of how, can I simply rename the place...Harlem?"-Aquaman

"However, the village mentality, and understanding what worked for us before injustice, before yurugu infection, before colonialism is what will save us now. "-Firebrand
6398, Good post
Posted by Solarus, Mon Nov-25-02 08:44 AM
Didn't see this. Glad it was upped. Even if for dubious reasons.