A noteworthy introductory survey on African history is the UNESCO General History of Africa. This series was distinguished by the editorial inclusion of African historians who produced new paradigms for the study of African historiography. Recommended as supplemental reading to the Chapters 9-10 in Tignor, are Hrbek, ed., General History of Africa: Volume III. Africa from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century. (James Currey / UNESCO, 1992); J. Ki-Zerbo and D.T. Niane, eds., General History of Africa: Volume IV. Africa from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century. (James Currey / UNESCO, 1992). For later periods see J.F. Ade Ajayi, ed. of Vol. VI, Africa in the Nineteenth Century until the 1880s; and A. Adu Boahen, editor of Vol. VII, Africa under Foreign Domination 1880-1935. This series set forth new paradigms that differed with the approach found by a collection of British historians in the Cambridge History of Africa series.
The Iron Age Confederations of South Central Africa
The spectacular and important confederation of town and village complexes that arose in Southern Africa from around the end of the 10th century CE are remarkable for the development of their agricultural, architectural and artistic production. Some of these sites variously lasted into the 14th and a few into the 17th century before they were abandoned for complex reasons and disruptions caused by the advent and arrival of the Portuguese on the East African coast. The best preserved of these palace urban complexes with evidence of extensive agricultural, animal husbandry and mining and metalworking is at the complex of the Great Zimbabwe. As we are mostly reliant upon archaeology for our knowledge of this civilization we'll explore the Global Heritage Network site, the UNESCO World Heritage guide and the Aluka.org guide. There were other important sites in the region including the sites of the ruins of Khami, Zimbabwe near the Bulawayo that was built during the Torwa Dynasty. For a survey of some of the material art and culture of these civilizations, use the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Spread of Islam in Africa 900-1500 C.E.
The spread of Islam across the Sahara to the Sahel, the West African states and to East Africa developed through merchant contacts and long-distance caravan routes of traders with the Arab Muslim cities of northern Africa. By the 11th century the Senegalese coastal region had converted to Islam as had large areas of the Sahel across to the Sudan. By the late 13th and 14th centuries large well established cities in the Sahel and Mali had large Muslim institutions. The building of large prominent mosques at Timbuktu and other cities in Mali reflect this development. These cities flourished as West African cities and kingdoms flourished from the prosperous trade in gold, salt, and various metal wares produced by the region. It also marks the rise of an overland slave trade to northern markets.
Ibn Battuta 1325-1354 CE
Along with Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah (Introduction to History) and his longer sets of historical writing, Ibn Battuta provides us with as complete a historical survey of the system of interchange and cooperation that existed across Islamic civilization during through the 14th century. As a survivor of the Black Plague, Ibn Battuta leaves us with comparative material on the status and level of various cities and regions of this period.
Doubts about whether Ibn Battuta actually traveled to all of the locations described in his Rihla (Travels) have been raised by a number of historians. These historians particularly doubt his descriptions or ability to have traveled to the Volga River in Russia, or to parts of Yemen or the Pacific ocean islands of Southeastern Asia.
For summary excerpts from his Rihla go to http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1354-ibnbattuta.html
An interactive map of Ibn Battuta's travels from his home in Morocco to China and back is available at:
Ross E. Dunn, The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century (London: Croom Helm, 1986)
Ibn Khaldun writes a History of the World
Khaldun received an excellent education but was orphaned at the age of 16 when his parents and much of his family succumbed to the Black Death. He worked as an administrator and consultant in government at courts in Fez in Morocco and Granada in Spain. After a series of political intrigues that landed him into prison he withdrew from political life and began to study the social conditions of Berber and semi-nomadic peoples in the neighboring regions of the Sahara. He compiled regional histories and set out to develop a type of comparative history that also drew upon his own personal experience. Ibn Khaldun developed a theory about the rise and fall of dynasties and the importance ofasabiya or group feeling or solidarity as a factor in sociology and history of power dynamics. Like Ibn Battuta he worked as a judge (qadi) in Cairo and famously met the conqueror Tamurlane as part of negotiations with the Mongol ruler and the Mamluks.
Exhibition website on Ibn Khaldun http://www.ibnjaldun.com/index.php?L=7