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Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 145–175 | Cite as

The Development of Ancient States in the Northern Horn of Africa, c. 3000 BC–AD 1000: An Archaeological Outline

  • Rodolfo Fattovich
Original Paper

Abstract

Beginning in the 3rd millennium BC, complex societies and states arose in the northern Horn of Africa. This process culminated with the development of the Kingdom of Aksum in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea in the 1st millennium AD. The development of these polities can be outlined in principle on the basis of the archaeological evidence. The process consisted of at least two distinct trajectories to social complexity, indirectly related to each other in the Eritrean–Sudanese lowlands and the Eritrean–Ethiopian highlands, respectively, with a shift in the location of complex societies from the lowlands to the highlands in the early 1st millennium BC. This shift was due to changes in the general pattern of interregional contacts between the regions facing the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean along the Nile Valley, Red Sea and western Arabia from the 4th millennium BC to the 1st millennium AD.

Keywords

Archaeology Social complexity State formation Horn of Africa Pre-Aksumite period Aksum 

Riassunto

Le prime forme di società complessa e stati sono emersi nel Corno d’Africa settentrionale a partire dal III millennio a. Cr. Questo processo è culminato con lo sviluppo del Regno di Aksum in Etiopia settentrionale ed Eritrea nel I millennio d. Cr. Lo sviluppo di queste società può essere descritto soprattutto in base alla documentazione archeologica. Questo processo ha implicato due traiettorie distinte verso la complessità sociale, collegate indirettamente tra loro, rispettivamente nei bassopiani eritreo-sudanesi e sull’altopiano etiopico ed eritreo con uno spostamento della localizzazione delle società complesse dai bassopiani all’altopiano nel I millennio a. Cr. Tale spostamento è stato determinato dai mutamenti nella rete di scambi inter-regionali tra le regioni del Mediterraneo e quelle dell’Oceano Indiano lungo la Valle del Nilo, il Mar Rosso e l’Arabia Meridionale tra il IV millennio a. Cr. e il I millennio d. Cr.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Studi e Ricerche su Africa e Paesi ArabiUniversità di Napoli “l’Orientale”NaplesItaly

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