The Peoples of the Middle Niger: The Island of Gold

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9780631173618: The Peoples of the Middle Niger: The Island of Gold
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This book provides the first comprehensive history of the peoples of the Middle Niger written by an English-speaking scholar.

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This book provides the first comprehensive history of the peoples of the Middle Niger written by an English-speaking scholar. "The Island of Gold" was the medieval Muslim and later European name for a fabled source of gold and other tropical riches. Although the floodplain of the Niger river lies far from the goldfields, the mosaic of peoples along the Middle Niger created a wealth in grain, fish and livestock that supported some of Africa's oldest cities, including Timbuktu. These ancient cities of the region that came to be known as Western Sudan were founded without outside stimulation and their inhabitants long resisted the coercive, centralized state that characterized the origins of earliest towns elsewhere.

In this book, Roderick James McIntosh uses the latest archeological and anthropological research to provide a bold overview of the distant origins of life for the inhabitants of the Middle Niger, and an explanation for their social evolution. He shows, for instance, the difficulties the peoples faced in adapting to an unpredictable climate, and how their particular social organization determined the unusual nature of their responses to that change. Throughout the book oral traditions are integrated into the story, providing vivid insights into the inhabitants' complex culture and belief systems.

About the Author:

Roderick James McIntosh is Professor of Anthropology at Rice University. As an undergraduate at Yale he excavated in Ghana, and his PhD research involved extensive work at Jenne-jeno. He has now worked for twenty years in Mali, and two years in Senegal. In 1990 he was Guggenheim Fellow at the Centre for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford) and in 1991 he was Senior Fulbright Fellow at the University of Dakar, Senegal. His previous publications include, with S. K. McIntosh, Prehistoric Investigations at Jenne, Mali (1980) and, edited with P. R. Schmidt, Plundering Africa's Past (1996).

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