The themes of sedentarisation, urbanisation and state formation are
fundamental ones in the archaeology of many diverse parts of the
world but have been little explored in relation to early societies
of the Saharan zone. Moreover, the possibility has rarely been
considered that the precocious civilisations bordering this vast
desert were interconnected by long-range contacts and knowledge
networks. The orthodox opinion of many of the key oasis zones
within the Sahara is that they were not created before the early
medieval period and the Islamic conquest of Mediterranean North
Africa. Major claims of this volume are that the ultimate origins
of oasis settlements in many parts of the Sahara were considerably
earlier, that by the first millennium AD some of these oasis
settlements were of a size and complexity to merit the
categorisation 'towns' and that a few exceptional examples were
focal centres within proto-states or early state-level societies.
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