African Population Collapse

15 Feb 2021

At .... a population crash in central Africa between AD400 and 600 is suggested in a study published in Science Advances this month. This coincides with the Justinian Plague in Europe, that also decimated people across Asia, weakening the Roman and the Persian empires and opening the way for the Arab invasions. Interesting that it should also have swept across Africa, decimating not just interior Africa but Egypt and the Aksum empire in what was formerly Nubia etc. The study focusses on the Bantu peoples rather than the older populations of the rainforest, such as the pygmies. This is because pottery was a major indicator of a decline and pottery was the product of Bantu farmers. Pygmies had a non sedantory life style and did not use pottery, and therefore left behind less for archaeologists to sift through. The study is therefore one people specific - but a people that now dominate all of Africa south of the Sahara. Earlier peoples have been virtually eliminated. One may wonder if Africa was also struck by the more recent Black Death epidemic. It certainly curtailed the Arab world and that included Arab penetration of interior Africa. The African population of Africa was probably quite low when European colonisation began which is a bit of a misnomer as Africa is thought to be the origin of the human species. One would have thought it would have been the heaviest populated region in the world if that was true - or it is just because the Leakey's were digging out a few skulls in the Great Rift Valley.