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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The early urban centres and States of West Africa
Author:Okpoko, A. IkechukwuISNI
Periodical:West African Journal of Archaeology
Geographic term:West Africa
urban history
Abstract:After a discussion of the definition of State/urban centre, the author examines the historical development and geographical extent of a number of early West African urban centres or States. The Empire of Ghana is the earliest historically recorded kingdom of the West African Sahel-Sudan. It attained the peak of its power at the beginning of the eleventh century AD. States which succeeded Ghana include the Empire of Mali, the kingdom of Songhai, the Ruma State, a number of small States in the Sudan, the two-phased Empire of Kanem-Bornu, the Hausa States, Kwararafa, Zamfara, Gobir, the Oyo Empire, and the kingdom of Benin. Archaeological evidence from ancient West African towns (obtained during the past decade through controlled excavations incorporating radio-carbon dating programmes) throws light on their subsistence and economies. Such evidence does not support the view that these ancient towns developed as a result of external trade or influences. It rather suggests that the significant factors responsible for the development of towns in West Africa are to be found in the preceding Iron Age development, and include a combination of geographical, economic, political, social (religious/ritual) and military factors. Bibliogr.