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This book is about history and the practical power of language to reveal historical change. Christopher Ehret offers a methodological guide to applying language evidence in historical studies. He demonstrates how these methods allow us not only to recover the histories of time periods and places poorly served by written documentation, but also to enrich our understanding of well-documented regions and eras. A leading historian as well as historical linguist of Africa, Ehret provides in-depth examples from the language phyla of Africa, arguing that his comprehensive treatment can be applied by linguistically trained historians and historical linguists working with any language and in any area of the world.
List of Illustrations
PART ONE. EVIDENCE AND METHOD
1. Methods and Myths
2. Writing History from Linguistic Evidence
3. Historical Inference from Transformations in the Vocabularies of Culture
4. Historical Inference from Word Borrowing
5. Linguistic Dating
PART TWO. APPLICATIONS
6. History in the Sahara: Society and Economy in the Early Holocene
7. Social Transformation in the Horn of Africa, 500 BCE to 500 CE
8. Recovering the History of Extinct Societies: A Case Study from East Africa
9. Cultural Diffusion in the Atlantic Age: American Crops in East Africa
Appendix 1. Outline Classification of Afrasian (Afroasiatic): Diagnostic Branch Innovations
Appendix 2. Proto-Afrasian and Proto-Erythraic Subsistence
Appendix 3. Development of Nilo-Saharan Lexicons of Herding and Cultivation
Appendix 4. Interpreting the Ethiosemitic Cognation Matrix
Appendix 5. Cushitic Loanwords in Ethiosemitic Core Vocabulary
Christopher Ehret is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of many books, including Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic (UC Press), An African Classical Age, and, most recently, The Civilizations of Africa.
“[A] valuable book which deserves to assume its rightful position as required reading for students and scholars of American history.”—Neil Kodesh Journal Of African History