1. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    Culture, cities and names in Ancient Africa.

    Discussion in 'Research' started by jmhoffer, Jul 2, 2013.

    Most fantasy is based out of Europe and Asia, so I was thinking of making a change and starting with Africa in the setting I'm developing. It changes little overall, but cultural details and the effect of language on names are important information.

    The problem is, these civilizations left very little behind and I'm having a hard time finding much in the way of good information with my initial searches.

    Would anyone know which ancient cultures in Africa we know the most about and the kinds of names they had for people and places? By 'ancient', I mean during the Roman Republic or Roman Empire but no later than the Dark Ages.
     
  2. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Ghana, Nok, and of course Egypt.
     
  3. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    Deliberately ignoring Egypt, but thanks for the other two!
     
  4. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    Other than Egypt, I'm finding that language in Ancient Africa tends to be a black box until Islam arrives. The world I'm looking at has no Islamic influences, meaning no push of Arab culture into Africa.

    What is there south of the Sahara, or is that all pretty much a black box as well? I'm finding myself constrained to Egypt for ancient cultures and language coming from Africa, but I'd rather avoid that if I can.
     
  5. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    The records are incomplete because the region was so limited, and never produced any major empires. If you want a fascinating book on why that may be, read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. The region is the ancestral land of all humanity, yet it doesn't engender itself to being a very habitable zone at times.
     
  6. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    I'll see if I can take a look, but I guess I'm stuck with Egypt. I can still make it work, I was just hoping for something different. Though honestly, Egypt isn't really used much either. On the plus side, it opens up a wide range of possibilities in Africa.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    How has no one mentioned Kush yet? ;)

    Kingdom of Kush, Ghana Empire, Mali Empire, Songhai Empire.
     
  8. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Those are all a bit later than the Romans though, but still very interesting. Nothing like the world's most vicious desert to keep people from visiting much.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Kush Empire 1070 BC–AD 350 (before and during the entire span of the Western Roman Period)
    Ghana Empire c. 750–c. 1235 (Admittedly after the West Roman Empire, but still very much within the time of the East Roman)
    Mali Empire c. 1230–c. 1600 (Yes, this is well past the Roman Period)
    Songhai Empire c. 1340–1591 (Yup, this one too. My bad) :redface:

    Sorry about that. I had only skimmed the OP. One of those moments when you're like, "Oh! Oh! No one has said these yet! Post NOW before someone does!!" LOL :D The Kush Empire does fall well within the range, though, and it was geographically close to other classical empires like the Egyptians and Nubians. Has anyone said Nubian yet? If not, Nubia! Those rascals managed to gank the Egyptian pharaohship from 760 BC to 656 BC. ;)

    That little list of African empires is one of those strange memories that sticks with you from school well into adulthood. I haven't a clue what the formula was for calculating the volume of a sphere, but I remember that list. ;)
     
  10. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Kush and Nubia may be too close to Egypt for his desires, but could serve him well.
     
  11. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    Do we have knowledge of language and clothing of these peoples?
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It seems not. :( The very word, Kush, is an Egyptian word refering to the culture in question, not their own word for themselves. There appear to be inscriptions, the phonemes for which are believed to be understood, but not the syntax of the language itself

     
  13. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    Thanks for all the help. Perhaps some future archaeologist will find a 'Rosetta Stone' for the Ancient Africans, but it looks like I'm stuck with Egypt.

    Which isn't necessarily all bad. I thought about it a bit, and since I've cut the promised land off from the world, it provides an interesting narrative for someone growing up on the west bank of the Nile River.

    Since I have no Islam in this world, Egyptian culture could spread across North Africa instead of Arab culture. Or I could just make stuff up, lol.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Frankly, I can't see why any of this would restrict you in your choices. You're not going to write the story in ancient (fill in the civilization), are you? And since your story premiss is one of alternate timeline...
     
  15. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    I'm looking at influences from the ancient cultures at a bare minimum. With the world controlled by daemons, I figured that they would be attracted to areas with cultures that suited them, rather than forcing too many changes on the existing culture. This wouldn't happen everywhere, but things like clothes and language would remain the same or similar regardless of daemonic influences. I'm really just cutting out religious influences on the ancient culture. I'd like it as true to the ancient cultures as possible, even with the alternate timeline.

    Edit: Granted, it means I could just make stuff up with the African cultures, but I'm trying to start with something people can connect the real world to.
     
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Even if you had this information, this isn't what connects a reader to the story. Your research could be meticulous, but the only people in the "real world" who are going to know such esoteric information, other than you after your research, will be the people who did the original research that you cite. :) Example: I once wrote a short fantasy story that took its structure from the lore and mythology of Yunque, a deity that was worshipped here in Puerto Rico before the coming of the European. My research was meticulous, all the names and references were correct to a T. It didn't matter because no one outside of Puerto Rico knows those things. To the uninitiated, it was all just so much gobbledegook. It was devoid of meaning because it was devoid of reference to the reader. These props are not what make a story.
     
  17. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    This is all true, but I can't just leave it out, either. It's like writing a mystery novel without knowing how long it would take for someone to die from a certain kind of wound. Yes, this is a fantasy/alternate timeline setting, but that doesn't mean everything is fake.
     
  18. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    Carthage was a very powerful empire who was locked in a series of devastating wars with Rome. Both sides suffered immensely, but ultimately Rome won. The legendary Hannibal was Carthaginian. Carthage is now roughly modern-day Libya (I think.)
     
  19. jmhoffer
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    jmhoffer Contributing Member

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    My understanding was the Carthage was pretty well destroyed and most of its culture gone by the time of Jesus, or am I mistaken?
     

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