Chapter

The Early Medieval Slave Trade of the Central Sahel: Archaeological and Historical Considerations

Anne Haour

in Slavery in Africa

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264782
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754012 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197264782.003.0004

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Early Medieval Slave Trade of the Central Sahel: Archaeological and Historical Considerations

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The trans-Atlantic trade that brought slaves from the African continent to the New World has generated such interest and controversy that it has tended to obscure another significant African slave trade, that which saw individuals sent across the Sahara to be sold in North Africa and Western Asia. This trans-Saharan trade was both longer-lived and, in terms of numbers eventually enslaved, demographically similar to the better-known trans-Atlantic trade. This chapter summarizes current understandings of the trans-Saharan slave trade for the period ad 750–1500 approximately, and assesses the prospects for its archaeological recognition. A second topic will be to suggest the merits of a comparative approach considering the impact of slave trading on social and political frameworks: the argument here is that a consideration of wider themes can bring us closer to understanding roots and causes, invalidating the convenient assumption that the Atlantic slave trade was a historical curiosity which can be safely consigned to the annals of the past.

Keywords: trans-Saharan slave trade; North Africa; Western Asia; Atlantic slave trade

Chapter.  7216 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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