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date: 25 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This article describes the origins of Africa; the ‘First Great Transition’ of human history from foraging to food production; the era of agricultural elaboration; the ‘Second Great Transition’, from villages and tiny local political units to towns and states; early towns and states in West Africa and the Horn of Africa; the era of empires, and Africa in the Atlantic Age. To view Africa over the very long term is to discover that the notable developments of Africa's past followed similar pathways and proceeded at similar paces as comparable changes elsewhere in the world. Two great transitions of human history in the Holocene — from foraging to farming and, several thousand years later, from villages and informal governance to towns and states — shows that Africa was a continent of primary invention in those times.

Keywords: Africa, Great Transition, agriculture, West Africa, Horn of Africa, Atlantic Age, world history

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