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Title: The archaeology of Early Islamic Trans-Saharan trading towns in West Africa : a comparative view and progressive methodology from the entrepot of Essouk-Tadmekka
Author: Nixon, Sam Robert
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis reassesses the Early Islamic Trans-Saharan Trade primarily via archaeological data from the northern Sahel of West Africa. Specifically, it focuses on the trading entrepots which developed on the southern fringes of the Sahara during the Early Islamic period. This research was motivated by the recognition that historical sources, while offering useful insights into Trans-Saharan commerce, are unable to answer certain key questions due to inherent limitations in source material. Additionally, although previous archaeology at the entrepot sites has provided useful data, its analytical application has been limited. This is largely because most relevant archaeological work was done 30 or more years ago and was technologically or methodologically limited in aspects of artifactual analysis and dating. It was therefore decided that our understanding of entrepot archaeology would be best served by a new field project. Accordingly, excavation and surface collection was undertaken at the previously untested entrepot site of Essouk-Tadmekka in northern Mali. The results from Essouk provide a new perspective on the Early Islamic Trans-Saharan Trade process and make the following important contributions to research on Trans-Saharan commerce: 1) new evidence that large-scale trade was earlier than traditionally believed (c. 750-950AD) as well as fresh data on the nature of the 10th/early 11th century 'trade boom' 2) greater insight into the changing socio-economic history of the entrepot system, demonstrating specifically that the Almoravid era (c. 1050-1140AD) inaugurated a profound shift in the organization of trade, and also showing how there was a final alteration and disruption of the 'Essouk' system by the arrival of new Berber groups (c. 1300-1400AD) 3) better understanding of the movement of Trans-Saharan commodities and their archaeological correlates, including new evidence relevant to the gold trade (coin moulds) and new ways of interpreting the flow of Trans-Saharan Trade (e.g. via in-depth analyses of notionally 'local' ceramic traditions).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available