Christianity arrived in fourth century C.E.
a. King Ezana adopted Christianity about the time of Constantine
b. Coptic Christianity is still the religion of half the region
fourth to sixth centuries C.E.: imperial expansion into Meroë and Yemen
a. reached gates of Mecca by 571
b. decline followed
c. revival of state several centuries later, but further south: both Meroë and Axum paralleled Eurasian developments and had direct contact with Mediterranean civilizations
There was major urbanization along the middle stretches of the Niger River between 300 B.C.E. and 900 C.E.
1. migration of peoples from the southern Sahara during long dry period
2. but no evidence of a state structure, either imperial or city-state
3. archeologists have not found evidence of despotic power, widespread war, or deep social inequality (like Indus Valley civilization)
Cities like Jenne-jeno were clusters of economically specialized settlements.
1. iron smithing was earliest and most prestigious occupation
2. villages of cotton weavers, potters, praise-singers (griots) grew up around central towns
a. artisan communities became occupational castes
b. rural populace also specialized (fishing, rice cultivation, etc.)
C. The middle Niger cities were stimulated by a network of West African commerce.
D. Large-scale states emerged in West Africa in the second millennium C.E.