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In terms of social arrangements, the ancient civilizations of the Inland Niger Delta, Egypt, and Aksum were very close. Specifically, in ancient Egypt, there was a pyramid-structured hierarchy in which the Egyptian gods held the highest roles. The gods were thought to govern the earth. Nobles and priests administered the government immediately under the gods. The Egyptian pharaohs were the most powerful people in the country (Page and Davis 17). A pharaoh also selected nobles and high priests to help him in administration and government. Moreover, the pyramid also featured scribes, engineers, soldiers, artisans, and traders. Persons who belong to lowest social status included the slaves, servants and farming society (Caneva 213). Similarly, the Aksum community was found in the early Ethiopian society. They are credited for developing Ge’ez, which are the only accessible African engraved scripts. Just like the Egyptians, the social systems were hierarchically structured. The king assumed the highest rank in the society. Under him, the society had the nobles who assisted the king in daily operations of the government (Reader 312). Finally, the other persons such as soldiers, artisans and farmers held the lowest positions in this community.
The ancient Inland Niger Delta community also had similar hierarchal social system. The monarchs assumed the highest social status in the civilization. Moreover, the nobles occupied the ranks below the kings and assist in governing the community (Reader 312). The rest of the persons such as farmers, soldiers, artisans and servants belonged to the lowest positions in the society. For this reason, the Inland Niger Delta, were similar to Aksum and Egyptians because they permitted for social agility (Page and Davis 19). In fact, as a person climbed up the economic positions in the civilization, they raised their social status. Moreover, in the three societies, social bureaucracy was quite beneficial.
However, their social systems differed in terms of the position of their gods. Particularly, in the ancient Egyptian society, gods were at the top of the social hierarchy unlike in the Aksum and the Inland Niger Delta societies (Caneva 219). The Egyptian people had a well-detailed and organized social structure as opposed to those of the Inland Niger Delta and Aksum, which were not properly stratified.
Transference of Cultures
The three societies transmitted or exchanged their traditions and customs among themselves especially through trade. The trade facilitated their civilization. The ancient Egyptians believed that their nearby societies were reliable sources of extravagance commercial materials, political power and homes of servants and slaves (Caneva 224). Additionally, the aksumites traded with Egyptians as they supplied iron, gold, salt, sheep, camels, cattle, grins, tortoise shell, gold, emeralds and ivory. On the other hand, the Egyptians traded on materials like silk, curtains, woollen clothes, and spices to Aksum. Moreover, the ancient Egyptians engaged with traders from the Inland Niger Delta who provided items such as ivory and gold in exchange of silk, curtains and clothes. Furthermore, the Inland Niger Delta merchants also engaged with Aksumites (Page and Davis 39). For instance, they obtained obsidian from the Aksumites. The obsidian was very beneficial to the Niger farmers because it could be used to shape or design their farming tools and blades.
In conclusion, most of the early African societies had similar social systems. The Aksum, the Inland Niger Delta and Egyptians had a hierarchal social structures with the rulers in the topmost rank (Reader 312). The nobles were immediately below the rulers as they assisted in running the affairs of governments. However, the slaves and servants belonged to the lowest social rank (Page and Davis 17). Nevertheless, these civilizations differed because the Egyptians had a proper defined system as compared to the others. Finally, they transferred their traditions especially through trade.
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Caneva, Isabella. "Predynastic cultures of Lower Egypt: The desert and the Nile." Van den Brink (1992): 217-224.
Page, Willie F., and R. Hunt Davis. Encyclopedia of African history and culture. 2016.
Reader, John. Africa. Edizioni Mondadori, 2017.
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