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Slavery in AfricaArchaeology and Memory$
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Paul Lane and Kevin C. MacDonald

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264782

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264782.001.0001

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The Invisible Archaeology of Slavery in the Horn of Africa?

The Invisible Archaeology of Slavery in the Horn of Africa?

(p.225) 11 The Invisible Archaeology of Slavery in the Horn of Africa?
Slavery in Africa

Niall Finneran

British Academy

Any archaeological study of slavery in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia) must take two factors into account: first, the paucity of archaeological evidence for this system, which is historically attested as being of immense economic importance in the Aksumite and post-Aksumite period; and second, that the ‘social memory’of slavery within the modern Ethiopian psyche has fuelled an ethnohistorical — potentially racist — dichotomy between the ‘Semitic’ highlands and the ‘Cushitic’ lowlands. This dichotomy also broadly mirrors a religious Christian/Muslim separation. This chapter argues that although apparently archaeologically invisible, the long history of slavery within this region of Africa has left a profound and legible cultural imprint upon its peoples and landscapes.

Keywords:   archaeological study, slavery, slave systems, Aksumite period, social memory, Semitic highlands, Cushitic lowlands, Ethiopian psyche

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