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“Before the arrival of Europeans the peoples of West Africa had lived under a number of remarkable empires of considerable diversity. Many of these peoples were pastoral, some were agricultural; they fished, they traded extensively, they developed skilled craftsmen, well-articulated codes of law, and highly sophisticated sculpture and music. Some African cities, such as Benin, Djenné, and Timbuktu, were complex societies, particularly Timbuktu, which was a notable center of Muslim learning. But the Africans had not developed their own written languages, and their isolation from Europe, protective though it was, shut them off from the scientific thought and mechanical invention of the early modern world. Their great cities were built of clay and wood, and in time they crumbled; a considerable portion of their history and institutional lore was lost for lack of records; their artifacts were carried off to museums.” – Richard Hofstadter, America at 1750: A Social Portrait

Published inVerandah

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