Traditions and Encounters, was Chapter 2, entitled “ and the Bantu Migrations.” Like many Westerners, I had already been exposed to some information on China, India, and especially the Mediterranean World. However, aside from the Egyptian Civilization, I never realized the extent of Egyptian development, nor the complexity of the . Most historical movies show Africa as a dark, forbidding place, full of danger and who use spears and arrows, have no real architecture or science, and barely subsist as hunter gatherers or herdsmen. This chapter showed how incorrect those assumptions actually are.
We tend to assume, incorrectly though, that there was nothing really advanced in most of Africa outside of the Egyptian Pyramids. Instead, we find that there were advanced agricultural and building techniques that predated anything in the Mediterranean. In addition, other that the “luck” of geography and weather patterns, some of these early African civilizations could have drastically changed world history. It was also surprising that there was so vibrant a trade culture so early in human history, with some of the artifacts still preserved from Egyptian archaeological sites. It was also interesting to note that the concept of so prominently in both Bantu and Egyptian culture, but never really developed further into what we now know as “steel.” Finally, it was amazing to understand how the process of agriculture really formulated African societies — not only in the process or urbanization but also in the way their societies were structured (Bentley, pp. 43-44). This certainly helps one understand the commonality of emerging civilizations, as well as changes the view that civilization was centered in the Mediterranean Region.
Chapter Two is similar to the other chapters in the book because the authors do far more than list facts, figures, and dates. Instead, they look at the overall view of what makes a society unique, and help us understand the particular geographic and environmental conditions that were necessary to help that society develop. It seems that trade and migration are certainly driving forces in the development of civilization; and the authors compare and contrast the different ways this impacted each of the early societies. It was the surprising amount of sophistication and advancement of the , though, that was particularly intriguing and enjoyable.
Bentley, J., et.al. Traditions and Encounters — a Brief Global History. New York:
McGraw Hill, 2010, Electronic.