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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Some of the earliest manifestations of social complexity in sub-Saharan Africa are found in the western Sahel and the central Sahara. Recent decades have significantly improved the information on them, although large gaps remain. This article considers early evidence for social inequality in the Sahara before examining West Africa’s first major polity: Tichitt (1900–400 BC). It then evaluates the western Sahel’s ‘age of empire’, the capitals, and great trading cities, from the early first millennium AD onwards.

Keywords: sub-Saharan Africa, social inequality, Tichitt, age of empire, central Sahara

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