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By John Iliffe

This historical past of Africa from the origins of mankind to the South African basic election of 1994 refocuses African background at the peopling of an environmentally adversarial continent. The social, monetary and political associations of the African continent have been designed to make sure survival and maximize numbers, yet within the context of scientific growth and different twentieth-century options those associations have bred the main fast inhabitants progress the area has ever visible. The historical past of the continent is therefore a unmarried tale binding residing Africans to the earliest human ancestors.

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Copper and iron, the two metals at issue, both occur naturally, but rarely, in pure form. In this state, they can be worked by beating, especially if heated. Metalworking of this kind began about 8000 bc in western Asia (modern Turkey and Iran). But copper and iron generally occur mixed with other minerals as ore and must be purified of them by smelting at high temperatures. Copper is easier to smelt; the process began in western Asia soon after 4000 bc and was discovered independently in several regions, including pre-Columban America.

As Roman control waned, Berber chieftains created successor states on the frontier, exploiting both the military skills of pastoralists and the P1: RNK 0521864381 c03 CUNY780B-African 978 0 521 68297 8 May 15, 2007 15:37 Impact of metals 33 taxable capacity of farmers. In 508 one such ruler proclaimed himself ‘King of the Moorish and Roman Peoples’, although by then the empire was no more. Vandal forces from Spain had invaded North Africa in 429, taken Carthage a decade later, and extended their power across the region.

Irrigation techniques, small pyramid tombs, and an oracular cult of Amun appeared in Saharan oases. Generally, however, the impact of Egypt’s metalworking skills and notions of kingship was confined to the Nile Valley itself, first the floodplain immediately to the south, known as Lower Nubia, and then the narrow valley of Upper Nubia stretching southwards from the Second Cataract towards modern Khartoum. Perhaps no more than half a million people lived in this arid region in pharaonic times, with evidence of high deathrates among young adults.

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