By Derek Nurse
As an creation to how the heritage of an African society should be reconstructed from mostly nonliterate assets, and to the Swahili specifically, . . . a version work.—International magazine of African ancient reports
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Additional resources for The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society, 800-1500
Hoes, machetes, axes, knives, mortars and pestles, grindstones, and winnowing trays were used, and there is a whole range of vocabulary associated with farming: to cultivate, to plant, to dig, to harvest, to weed, to cut down, to pound, to grind, to scrape, to winnow, to thresh, and chaff. Intoxicants were probably brewed, grain was stored in raised granaries and at least by the ninth century at some points on the coast, a kind of bread was being baked in ovens. Since the bulk of the population was concerned with farming and the central part of their inheritance from proto-Bantu was agricultural, we can assume that the tradition continued unbroken through proto-Sabaki times.
150), were both Greco-Roman collections gathered in Alexandria, and many of the rest were Arab compilations made in southern Arabia and the Persian Gulf. The notable exceptions were al-Masudi, who visited the coast ca. 915, Ibn Battuta, who stopped there in 1331, and a number of Portuguese accounts from the early sixteenth century. The rich detail of these accounts sets them off from the others and provides the majority of usable data. Those travelers who did visit the coast, however, were naturally attracted to the larger towns, and their contacts were limited to a few merchants or officials.
The latter were an innovation probably deriving from Southern Cushitic influence. D. 800 camels had been introduced by Eastern Cushitic migrants but never played a major role in proto-Sabaki society. Proto-Sabaki-speakers kept cattle, which they knew how to milk and bleed, but consideration of comparative vocabulary and of contemporary communities suggests that cattle keeping remained a secondary activity. Essentially, they were subsistence farmers, with grains (sorghum, eleusine, millet, probably rice) and legumes (various identifiable beans and peas) central to their agriculture.
The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society, 800-1500 by Derek Nurse