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Sao Civilization 600 BCE to 500?

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    Posted: 02 Jan 2010 at 02:14

Sao Civilization

600 B.C.E. TO 500A.D.
Sao Civilization

500 B.C.E. TO 500A.D.

There is not too much known on how the rise of the'' Sao civilization'' occurred , but there have been recent archeological findings in the present decade that is shedding more light on the historical occurrence of this mysterious civilization . Archeologist are claiming the first proto-urban settlements started to surface around the western and southern firgi flood plains of the Chadic region around 500 BC.



The new paradigm shift in archeology was the discovery of a site called ''Zilum'', located between Maiduguri and Lake Chad,its surrounding wall encompasses the site's urban settlement, which dates back to 500 BCE . The firkin flood plains are also showing clues to how the people lived in the past but the problem is that research in historical records, are not being correlated with archeological discoveries . Some archeologists are still trying to discern whether the people that lived in these town like settlements were the ''Sao'', or an X-Group tribe that settled in the region before.

Historians are now believing that the scavenging nomadic tribes in the Sahara had forced the sedentary tribes in the south to organize and initiate a social complexity amongst there environment .

The Kotoko believe they are descended from the ''Sao'' according to their oral traditional griots . Kotoko oral griots say they lived in their walled towns, practiced great bronze work, did ceramic art,and even practiced ritualized murder. The Kotoko consider the Sao to be more advanced in materialism culture in the past than, they are today in material culture.



It must be noted that the ''Sao'', also called the Soo, or Seu, were great enemies of Kanemubi tribes, ''Borno tribes'', the Zagawa tribe , and ''Sayfawan tribe''. The Sao have been known to be hostile and aggressive, and many Mais of Kanem-Bornu have ruthlessly attacked the ''Sao'' . But not without reason, the ''Sao'' were known to be aggressive ,territorial , and even predatory warriors during periods throughout the 7th to 16th centuries which was after their downfall of region hegemony. The ''Zaghawa'' imperial dynasty called the Duguwan of Kanem in the 7th to 12 century mention they were losing many battles themselves to the Sao before establishing Kanem (before the 7th to 12th centuries A.D.). But although the Sao and Zaghawa were ruthless competitors for regional hegemony in the Lake Chad Region the ''Zaghawa'' have adopted many customs from the ''Sao'' and it seems the Sao held dominion over the ''Zaghawa''.

According to Carlos Magnivita , Stefanie Kahlehber, and Barbara Eichorn,


The recent archeological discoveries of ''Zilum' and other sites in the Mega Chad region are confirming the advanced civilization long before the Sao .Moreover the Gajigana culture , is known by archeologist to have lasted from 1800 bce to 400bce, this period has shown great amount of changes during the PHASE I, PHASE II, and PHASE III periodical stages. The ''Gajiganna culture''shows signs of complex social order and settlements of people in which the may advanced further in their societal development becoming semi-urban design .

After the Gajiganna culture it is apparently noted that sites having distinct attributes to include houses ,food storage basins , and the walled ramparts are found at over 400 sites throughout the Lake Chad region.These sites appear to have been based on a hierarchical structure.



According Magnavita 2000 to 2001

West Africa in general. All in all, the size of the largest settlement, its presumably relative large population, the presence of public architecture, the apparent existence of discrete zones of production as well as the hierarchy of sites can be interpreted in a series of ways.

Apparently the most complex of these mid-first millennium BC Gajiganna settlements Zilum , it is a key-site showing early urban attributes and figuring as a central place (Magnavita & Magnavita 2001).



The problem with Gaijigana culture is that most archeologist and researchers claim that the period from 1800 BCE to 400 BCE, do not show any signs of being the same culture found at the sites like those of Zilum.Since Zilum comes at a later time after the Gajiganna culture, and it is very distinctly different from that of Gajiganna culture. Zilum and its related sister sites may be a new readpation of the Lake Chad environment enabling complex social structure. Compared to the Gajiganna culture,the rare findings like that at Zilum and Magbe are less numerous than the settlements made during the Gajiganna culture period. However these findings of people who live urban like dwellings after the period Gaijiganna culture have been breakthroughs. They have definitely have been recent findings of later settlements after the Gajiganna culture into the 400 BCE onwards although they tend to be not as numerous as the 400 gajiganna sites but there are signs of continuations in the recent findings of sites like Zilum, although being different. Another site that revealed another settlement was Maibe east of Bama.







Excerpts from Magnavita 2000 and 2001



Although the number of transitional sites in the area seems to be very restricted, those few examples exhibit unique characteristics compared to the remaining prehistoric settlements of the region: their physical attributes as density of features and size (aredpopulation) exceed several times those of LSA Gajiganna villages.



According to German archeologist Carlos Magnavita and Sonja Magnavita Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universitat Seminar, the site Zilumi indicates that it had been a major urban settlement of the region

The presence of features and artifacts suggesting the possible rationed off sites of Zilum's dimensions into areas of specialized or semi-specialized production is SUI generis for medieval and historic settlements of urban character like Jenne- Jeno, Tegdaoust or Begho (Mclntosh and Mclntosh1984). As in the case of the site's dimension and density, the peculiarity concerning the occurrence of those areas of urban development manufacturing in Zilum is however remarkable due to its early date of development. While the organisation of artisanal production in quarters at Jenno-Jeno only could be detected for the end of phase III beginning of phase IV, i.e. 8th-9th century AD (Mclntosh 1995), the evidence available up to the present seems to indicate that a similar complex material culture manufacturing system possibly existed in Zilum in the very beginning of the Iron Age.





There have been new findings between the Garamentian territories of Fezzan and Kawar (also called Kaouar which is located in the North-East section of Niger). It is a discovery of a broken marble column have been found, a sword, and remains of a square stone building.

a Roman trader who had joined an expedition of the king of the Garamantes to Agisymba, probably another name for Kanem ‚ located in the land of the Blacks directly south of Fezzan.29



Marinus of Tyre writes about the land of Agisymba between 107 A.D. to 115 A.D. He wrote it to be a country inhabited by Ethiopians, and according to Ptolemy II it was a 4 months journey south of Fezzan(a stronghold area within the Garamentian Empire.)

Even along the Komadugo Yobe Region close to Birni Gazargamo, according to local oral traditions say the central Sao are most often considered as the original inhabitants before their own arrival in the 2nd century AD. A lot of the tribes were nomadic bandits roving the Sahara, and some even claim the ''Sao'' were the ones that helped them to adapt to the new semi-arid region when the tribes first arrived in the Lake Chad region.

If you would travel further north along the great Trans-Saharan road you will find inhabitants of of Tedjerhe, Fachi, and Kawar and the smaller towns of Shirfa, Siggidim, Sara and Jado you will see that all the Kanuri inhabitants of urban centers claim that they were preceded by the ''Sao''.

The Traghen located in the Sahara, claim the ''Sao'' built the Citadel of Traghen. The northern extension areas reference to the ''Sao'' legends up to the area of ''Fezzan'' would be a source coming from the ''Kanuri'', which say a certain people were there before their own arrival and were capable of building citadels and towns,calling themselves by the name Sao.Within reguard to most northern settlement of Kanuri is that of Tedjerhe, however the names of wells further north in Traghen indicate an earlier Kanuri settlement there.

The traditions of Tedjerhe mention that ''Soo'' was the builder of the citadel (qasba) of Traghen and Babaliya oral traditions likewise claim that their Sao ancestors were the builders of the castles of ''Jabal Nefusa'' and ''Fezzan'', these items of information may be taken as evidence of the ethnical similarity of the town-builders of Fezzan, known by classical sources as Garamantes, and the town-builders of the firki plains.It could be possible that the Garamentes and the Sao (Seu) as some say were two akin tribes that were both autonomous but drifted apart to make their own socially complex societies. What is interesting is that the book of ''Giram'', a royal chronicle of the Kanem-Bornu history ,may be a derivation of the word ''Garam'', the country name for the Garementian Empire. Note that not to long ago it was thought that the Garamantian empire did not consist of any urban centers until recent findings of the past decades by many archeologist that proved otherwise.

Agisymba which is described laying south of Fezzan (Fezzan is in present day Libya), located around the Mega Chad region was also thought to be a reference of the ''Sao civilization'' by the ''Romans''.. Agisymba is described by Ptolemy as the Ecumene or oikoumene of the southernmost limit of the Garamatian empire . Ecumene or oikeoumene is a ''Roman'' word that means civilized land also in later Roman periods. Marinus of Tyre describes Julius Martinus being accompanied by the Garamantian king in an expedition into ''Agisymba'', it says the king did this because the inhabitants were his subjects, Julius Martinus sought to capture Rhinos from the country of Agisymba for the coliseum games ,this occurred in about 100 AD. Julius claimed on his way to the country there were two mountains called Bardetus and Mesche which could of corresponded to the mountains of ''Hoggar'' and ''Air'' which the great ''Garamentean'' trade route called the the Black Narrows that lead to the ''Agysimba'' . Another Roman general called ''Septimus Flaccus'' who also made his way into the country according to Ptolemy . Herodutus may have made a reference to ''Agisymba'' also.

Herodutus makes an account of a Libyan tribe called the ''Nasomones'' that travelled south in one story until they reached a swampy area, they were later met by small people who took them into their town, correlates with small people of the Niger who were believed to be the original inhabitants of the area. The swampy area could of course meant the firki flood plains located around the Lake Chad area, which was probably the swampy area near the lake located in the Niger country .Could the land the Nasomenes were carried away to, be the land of ''Sao''. Although Herodutus accounts talks of the Libyan Nasomenes encountering people being of small stature, the Kanembu traditions claiming the Sao were tall giant,would not necessarily contradict and them being the ''Sao''. We might also add that they claim the Sao also carried elephants on their shoulders . This cannot be taken with full seriousness. They also claim a Sao king lived 331 years in a city which is most likely not true and is a wild tale of course.

What is intriguing is that the the same techniques of fired-brick building from the first millennium BC continued all the way onto the 19th century A.D. Now interesting enough, this is the same technique for societies beginning their civilizations as the ''Sumerians'' are known to build of brick and build with mud also. It seems that not only living in the desert stimulates the tenacious inhabitants to become more creative with building and surviving but also causes the inhabitants to use the same technique of construction.

MAGNAVITA, Carlos, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany:
Displaying power: mud walledsettlements and fired-brick architecture at Lake Chad

Over the last few years, it became apparent that major permanent settlements to the southwest of Lake Chad were probably once surrounded by protective mud walls or ramparts. This trend began by about the middle of the first millennium BC persisted up to the 19th century AD. Alongside their practical function, these structures probably also displayed the power of the communities they enclosed. From the 12th to14th centuries AD onwards, fired-brick buildings additionally became part of the traditional method of building in the territories dominated by the Kanem-Borno kingdom. This analysis traces these developments using some examples from recent and past archaeological research around Lake Chad.


Regardless of the opaque origins of the ''Sao'', around the first millennium AD, the ''Zaghawa'' ,a Nilotic tribe had migrated there from the North penetrating south into the Southern Sahara into Lake Chad region. ''Sao'' are said to have dominated Zaghawa along with other pastoral tribes of the region if they didn't already influence the neighboring tribes greatly as tributaries. The ''Sao'' were rivals of Zaghawa tribe and have defeated the Zaghawa many times in battle before ''Zaghawa'' find' their own Kanem-Bornu Empire in 7th AD which is emphasized in ''Duguwan'' royal book called the ''Diwan'' or ''Girgam'' . But the ''Zaghawa ''and ''Sao'' have been on good terms at times, according to the Zaghawa ,they learned a lot from the Sao, in which the "Sao" lived in city states at the time the Zaghawa first arrived in the region. According to the ''Kano Chronicle'' , Barbushe, a priest of a Dalla Hill, was the first settler of Kano. According to Elizabeth Isichei , '' Barbushe'' is thought to be a Sao and of course would of founded and laid the foundation to what is now the city of Kano which was to become an epicenter for the Hausa states.



They are many Kanuri griots that speak of the many'' Mais''or kings from different tribes coming to the Sao or Sau for advice on how to build,giving food giving shelter of refuge for "Mais"(kings) of different kingdoms. The Sao seem to be the very influential in the Nomadic Chadic speaking tribes from the north sudden;y migrating to settle in the Lake Chad . This would explain their favorability in tribal disputes.



Modu Kanesami Damasak one oral tradition

. On the other hand the Sau people had prepared themselves for a war with them. Mai Ahmadu told the Sau people that he had not come to fight them. They asked him for the reason for his coming. He requested a piece of land to farm. The Sau king called for the attention of Mai Ahmadu; he knelt down with one of the leg partly standing and held an arrow. He made a very big mark on the ground and said, See if this resting place of my aunt Gawalambo would be enough for you?The name Gazargamu came from the name of the aunt of the Sau king called Gawalambo.

He then came to Sau Dala N gumami... they were the inhabitants of the place. He asked the Sau politely, ‚¬ÂKaka Sau could you give us a place to settle?The Sau agreed to give them a place to settle. People call this place Gazargamu,... isn't it?



The Zaghawa tribes would eventually find their own city called N'jimi under their king ''Sef of Sai'' who was the first (Mai) or king . Sef of Sai would have a son named ''Dugu''. Dugu is most likely the founder of the ''Duguwa Dynasty'', the Duguwa dynasty would be the first dynasty to establish the Kanem Empire and proclaim themselves to be divine. ''Duguwa'' became very so synonymous with Zaghwa tribe that many of the empire subjects referred to the Zaghawa as the Duguwa. In the Kanem-Bornu history book the ''Girgam'', Zaghawa are refered to as the ''Duguwa''. At this time the Sao hegemony over the area began to fade, maybe this is due to them being oblivious of the relations with their neighboring tribes and not exercising diplomacy. The Sao although may have been more prosperous than others in the region before the rise of the Kanem never did hold absolute authority over tribes in the Lake Chad Area.



According to Al-Yaqubi, the ''Duguwa '' extended its rulership from the kingdoms of the Niger to the small Christian kingdoms of the Nile like Alowa, Maukuria, and Nubia to all the way to the Mega Chad area. The Zaghwan Duguwana dynasty sold slaves to the North. Uqba Ibn Nafi arrives in Fezzan around 666 AD finds a thriving slave trade, he implements a baqt system that is similar to that of Egypt and Nubia.

''Al Adrisi'' and ''Al Yaqt'' Islamic chroniclers, had written the Zaghwas Duguwan bases its administrative power around oasis system Manan,Anjimi, and Kanem were the main oasis towns.

The ''Duguwa dynasty'' had prospered, but by 1085 A.D. a Berber Islamist named ''Hummay'' arrived and disposed the Duguwa king . ''Ibn Said'' wrote the Zaghwa tribes had become splintered .There were Northern Zaghawa tribes who became separate from Southern Zaghawa tribes due to some women aspiring to becoming wives for the southern Zaghawa tribes and some in the North.

Then the arrival of ''Hummay '', had took the seat of the Duguwas throne. '''Hummay'' would be one of the first rulers of the Sefuwa Dynasty .The Sefuwa(Safawan) ruled all over Kanem in the 12th A.D. century, Kanemebu people began to consolidate in the Chadic region around the Kanem-Bornu domain, during the 12th century AD.



According to legend the Sefuwa Dynasty claimed ancestry from the Safy Dhi Yazan, a Jewish Yemenite king in 6th . Ibn Said and Umarie all claim that the Yemenite Jewish king King ''Safi Dhi Yazan'' had migrated to the Chad-Sudanic regions. Henceforth the Sayfawan Dynasty originated out of the word Sefuwa . The Sayfawan Dynasty believed they were founded by an Israelite people, but this is all a mythological legend, due to Hummay being forgotten,There was also a sacred object called the Mune, who some believe it to be the Ark of Covenant from Israel or a sacred Sefuwan Islamic object .Ironically it is said the ''Mune''was casted out or Destroyed by the Mai Dunama Dabbelami. 12 century AD



Kanembuis expansion in the 12th century A.D.was due primarily to Mai Dunama Dabbalemi, who reigned from 1221 A.D.-1259 A.D his reign would a be brief interlude for solidarity for the nomadic tribes and a thriving trade market in the Chad region. ''Mai Dunanma Dubblemi'' also increased literacy throughout the land due to the adoption of Arabic writing, , ''Mai Dunama''also declared a jihad against the surrounding tribes forcing some to convert to Islam. From the seat of power in ''Njimi, '' Mai Dunama Dabbalemi'' was able to seize control of the Hausa lands, Ouaddi and Adamawa. He also increased diplomatic relations with North African kingdoms such as Almohad Dynasty and Ayyubid Dynasty.



Dabblamemi devised rewarding system to the military commanders that conquered lands , and offered to them to keep a percentage of ''booty'' from raids and seizures . The military officers then passed their titles to their sons and that is how the Sayfawan hereditary nobles came about through plunder and pillaging . This would back fire after Dabblamemi's death, as they were many civil wars and Dynastic fueds that ensued from the 13th to 15th AD century due to minimal territory disputes.



Between 1342 and 1352, the Sao attempted to revive their place in Kanembu . The ''Sao''had killed four mais of the Zaghawa in battle. This ongoing internal conflicts of ''Mais'' resulted in numerous attempts to seize the throne.Another historical factor causing the Sayfawan Dynasty to wither away in power, was the invasions of the Bulala tribe, which caused the Sayfawan dynasty to migrate to Bornu.

The Sefuwa Dynasty moved to Borno, also due to attacks of the Tubu. The Tubu attacks were retaliation against the attacks of Bulala. The Bulala and Tubu were allied with each other. The Sayfawan Dynsaty had moved to Bornu from the Kanembu region and also traveled a roamed elsewhere mustering up their power and preparing their army to retake the Njmini and Kanembu area. In the mean time they also fended off attacks from Berbers, Arabs, and other Nomadic Chadic tribes.

Hope finally came in 1472 when Mai Ali Dunamami defeated the Sayfawan enemies, he then began to build and develop in the region of Bornu, building their new capital in "Ngazargamu", towards the west of Lake Chad in present day Niger. It would become the permanent ''seat of power''for Sayfawa or Sefuwa dynasty. Ngazargamu was a very productive land agriculturally and better suited for raising cattle also.

Then during the reign of ''Mai Ali Gaji''(1497-1515), the Sayfawan were able to invade the Kanembu country and regain their former capital N'jimi from the Bulala tribe, However the seat of the throne would remain in ''Ngazargamu''', With the Sayfawan reclaiming the Kanembu or Kanem region they consolidated the two countries to become the Kanem-Bornu,The Golden era coincided with the collapsing of the Songhai Empire creating a political vacuum into which Kanem -Bornu Empire stepped up to take control over, gaining huge amounts of territory They also regained authority over their kindred tribes of the Hausa kingdoms.



Then came Idris Aluma (1571 -1603) who is known as one of the greatest Mais of the Kanem Bornu Empire. According to legend in an epic poem he had victories in 330 wars and wins 1,000 battles. He implemented refined military tactics in his campaigns. Aluma fortified military camps, applied scorch earth tactics, constructed innovative siege devices, armored horses , used muskets, Kotoko boatmen, and appointed some of his soldiers to be trained by Turks. Idris Alooma re-established the empires authority in the Fezzan area in , the Hausa lands and initiated internal jihads to convert non-muslim subjects. Idris built roads, storage granaries, better boats for the Kotoko traveling the Niger & Lake Chad,and also made transportation within the empire more suitable for his subjects.



Idris Aluma regained rulership of the Hausa lands ,the Fezzan area, Badgirmi, Wadai kingdoms, and many other kingdoms. Idris Aluma passed sharia law on his subjects and forced subjects to convert to Islam, built numerous mosques,made hostels for muslims who made ''Hajj''. Aluma began political relations with ''Ottoman Sultans', ''Saadi Dynasty'', ''Kingdom of Fez'', and the ''Bujuri Dynasty''. Idris Aluma did not establish any good relations with other muslims dynasties in West Africa,East Africa or the Horn of Africa. The Sayfawan economic and political power of Kanuri Empire thrived as trade grew with the north African Kingdoms, it sent fabrics, salt, minerals and many slaves north to the Arab lands in return for copper, guns, and horses.



Now the control of many Seyfawan kings in the Chadic region during the Kanem period are misinterpreted by many cartographers and historians, its true the Kanem-Bornu Mai ruled all of the people, but his influences varied depending on the people ,tribes, cities, and towns the king resided over, jurisdiction varied in different degrees of power. Since there were many nomadic tribes , the Mais taxing of his subjects varied to degrees, taxing, administering of laws, and loyalist to his throne differed from nomadic tribe to nomadic tribe, city to city, town to town.





Idris Alumas reforms will cause Kanem-Bornu Empire to last another 300 years. But as the Kanem-Bornu spread Westward lying not too far from the Kingdom of Foota Tooro, it awakened the attention of the grassroot muslims called fulbe who made the political group the Fulani. They would eventually invade the Kanem-Borno state in the 1800s. Fulani have their origins of a Fulbe lower middle class muslims, who initiated their own jihad against their oppersive Denanke kingdom. the Fulani would topple the Denanke kingdom and then conquer the Kanem-Bornu empire.



Edited by AksumVanguard - 19 Mar 2010 at 02:03
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2010 at 03:24
Please Aksum, before pasting your texts please edit the sources so that they would transcribe in a readable condition?  As it is, one can not find much on the "Sao" culture and what it there carries little relevance to contemporary Cameroon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AksumVanguard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2010 at 04:27
Well' thats the best I gets I'm not sure if fonts that I compiled would transmute exactly alike on the boards of "AE", here is one link that might.
 
 
The "Sao" did inhabit the Bornu region of Cameroon which is adjacent of the Lake Chad area, but they were known to be in all vicinities of the "Chad region", they are believed to originate either in Chad, the Sudan or in Niger, they are Chadic, and some believe they are related to the Garamentes. I don't recall to many people in Camerron even identifying with the "Sao", the culture there is also non-existant, they are virtually not to many traces of them in Cameroon in the past and present.


Edited by AksumVanguard - 02 Jan 2010 at 04:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2010 at 04:36
The Mega-Chad region is the Lake Chad (Tchad) basin which does comprise an area touching not only the country of Chad but Northern Cameroons as well as Northeast Nigeria!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AksumVanguard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2010 at 06:33

Well then we are not in disagreement, Sao did not only occupy North East Cameroon respectively, but also areas within the Niger, Chad, and Nigeria or better known as "Lake Chad". The culture is of course vansihed but many  remnants and oral traditions have been assimilated by many former tribal localities in this region they are legends among some.

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