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

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

Chapter:
(p.61) 4 The Early Medieval Slave Trade of the Central Sahel: Archaeological and Historical Considerations
Source:
Slavery in Africa
Author(s):

Anne Haour

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197264782.003.0004

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

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