West Africa Research Paper

2015 Words 9 Pages
In West Africa, the “human experiment” lasted for hundreds of years. West Africans developed agriculture independently. This led to large, complex states. Eventually, more connections between the world zones hurt West African civilizations.
The start of West African states

West Africa developed agriculture on its own, like the Fertile Crescent did earlier. Starting around 3000 BCE, West Africans began to grow more food. This food was extra energy that supported more people than did hunting and gathering. The rest of sub-Saharan Africa did not begin farming until 1000 BCE or later. West Africa began to farm around the same time as the Americas did. It also began to develop agrarian, or farming, civilizations around the same time.

There is
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Using agriculture, humans can get more and more energy from the environment (food and resources). Then, civilizations often compete for that energy. In a way, they are similar to animals in nature. Both civilizations and animals need energy to either maintain or increase their complexity.

The first challenge to Ghana’s power came in the eleventh century. It came from the Almoravids, a civilization from the Atlas Mountains region in northwest Africa. The Almoravids took control of the Western Sahara. They soon came into conflict with Ghana. The details of the conflict are hazy. Some Arab sources claim that Koumbi Saleh, Ghana’s capital, was attacked. But archaeological evidence does not support this. In any case, the Ghana Empire managed to fight off the Almoravids, who went into decline in the next century.

In the twelfth century, Ghana began including more Muslims in its government. These included diplomats and the master of the treasury. By the end of the 1100s, all of Ghana had converted to Islam.

Before, Ghana had followed an animist religion. This religion involved spirits of the forests and holy trees that only priests could visit. By 1200, however, Ghana was absorbing more and more influences. West Africa sat at the very end of the Silk Road trading network that stretched across
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These regions still had the uglier parts of agrarian civilizations: slavery, intolerance, and an uncontrollable drive to control more resources.

The more advanced civilizations often attacked and stole from civilizations that were smaller or still developing. As Big History teaches us, collective learning can bring us more connections and technological innovations. Still, it is not always fast enough to bring us the wisdom to handle them.

After 1500, West Africa’s story becomes part of the global story. Still, its agrarian civilizations were an important marker in the story of increasing human complexity. West Africa between 3000 BCE and 1500 CE is another example of the “human experiment” that happened independently all over the world.

If you think of early world zones as isolated “experiments,” you can observe the differences and similarities between them.

Agriculture appeared in West Africa around 3000 BCE. That led to large agrarian states that were very similar to others around the world. Finding the similarities is important to figuring out what makes an agrarian

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