P. 1
The Slave Route Project PART2

The Slave Route Project PART2

|Views: 76|Likes:
Published by st

More info:

Published by: st on Sep 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOCX, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





The Slave Route Project, UNESCO

African Contributions to Science, Technology and Development
Paul E. Lovejoy


The Dawn of Civilisation
African contributions to the ancient world are well known. The pyramids of Egypt attest to the skills of engineering and architecture. Classical Egypt crossed all the frontiers of northeastern Africa and southwestern Asia. The populations of this area were mixed. Those who built the pyramids included Africans from the middle and upper Nile River valley, as well as people from the Mediterranean and elsewhere. The technology and the science behind the technology were not racialized but crossed many cultures. Similarly, the Nok culture of what is now central Nigeria displays an antiquity in art forms that reveal knowledge of metallurgy and stone sculpture that has similarities to other parts of the world. This is important to recognize; technological and scientific breakthroughs occurred independently in many parts of the world. The spread of iron technology is a case in point. Africans could transfer the skills of blacksmithing to the Americas because these skills were ancient in Africa. If anything, some African skills were not transferred into diaspora, such as the ability to work in other metals, including bronze and silver. Generally, there was no need for these skills in plantation America, while there was a need for skills in working iron. This is but one example of the types of technological knowledge that were common in Africa but were not transferred into diaspora but rather the skills were lost, retarding development. Once again we see the inefficiency of slavery as a system; the exploitation of people as slaves tended to undermine the transfer of skills. The construction of ancient monuments, palaces and temples in the Nile valley demonstrates an architectural tradition that was continued in the construction of mosques in West Africa and along the East African coast, as well as churches in Ethiopia.

The knowledge of mathematics and engineering is ancient and was closely tied to the availability of building materials. In the Americas, architectural contributions can be seen in the construction of forts and churches, especially in Cuba and mainland Latin America, where Africans and people of African descent were involved in both construction and maintenance. Many of the palaces, mosques, temples, churches, and fortifications have been designated UNESCO Heritage sites from medieval times onward. The ancient pyramids of the Nile valley demonstrate that the issue of what was "African" and what was not is a question of definition. Certainly the pyramids are unique and as much a part of the history of African contributions to technology and development. Also to be highlighted will be Zimbabwe, the Ethiopian Coptic churches, the Islamic architecture of the East African coast. The spread of adobe mosque and palace construction associated with the tradition of al-Sahili can be highlighted. In addition, African skills in architecture and construction spread to the diaspora. Some of the cathedrals of Hispanic America, dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, as well as fortifications, were built by architects who were of African descent. Similarly, Africans, many from what is now Ghana, constructed all the buildings in the colonial town of Newport, Rhode Island, as they did in Kingston, Jamaica, and elsewhere.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->