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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 24, Issue 1–2, pp 1–14 | Cite as

Diffusion in the Studies of the African Past: Reflections From New Archaeological Findings

  • Felix A. Chami
Original Article

Abstract

Diffusionist theories have often been invoked to explain how ancient African cultures were formed and developed. Explanations were either in terms of waves of migrations or by infiltration by people of less African origin or people alleged to have had a high culture. This article provides new evidence for a Neolithic cultural sequence on the islands and coast of East Africa. It proposes that archaeological cultural horizons such as these should be re-examined using a revised diffusionist theory. On this basis, it can be shown that the people who were smelting iron in Sub-Saharan Africa around the first century a.d. were not marauding communities of Bantu peoples with no inclination to settle and build up empires, but of people who were well settled, and had a long history of building stable settlements and trading from Neolithic times.

Keywords

Migration Infiltration Revised diffusionist theory 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania

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