By: Dr Clement Abas Apaak PhD (Author)
This textbook is a product of an in-depth, eclectic and multidisciplinary investigation of the socio-economic role of salt trade in northern Ethiopia. Ethnoarchaeological methods are used to explore all aspects of the salt trade in an attempt to provide a basis to understand the role of salt as an economic item, in socio-cultural developments as well as aid the interpretation of the archaeological record. This book focuses on the socio-economic role of salt, and how salt, as a trade item has contributed to the evolution of societies from simple to complex. Salt is a known cross-cultural item of early trade with documented socio-political consequences. Research for this book was undertaken in Ethiopia, where written records on the salt industry go back at least 2,000 years. Field data was collected in the Tigrai and Afar regions of northern Ethiopia.
The book explores all aspects of the salt trade in an attempt to provide a basis to understand the role of salt as an economic item, in evolution of societies from simple to complex. Theoretical issues related to social complexity, approaches adopted by archaeologists to explain the emergence of social complexity in Africa, and trade as a complex cultural phenomenon to study in the archaeological record are discussed.
The history of salt production and trade in Ethiopia, historical context of salt in Ethiopia, based on the reports of visitors to Ethiopia from 525 A.D. to 1977 are outlined. The operational chain of the salt industry, the technological and socio-economic characteristics of the salt industry, the different classes of specialists engaged in the salt industry in the source and market areas are revealed. To understand the operational chain of the salt trade today, the book describes caravan merchants, their activities, and their interactions with other participants in the salt industry.
This book is a product of extensive primary and secondary data. Secondary data was obtained from literature on the ethno-history, and ethnography of salt trade in Ethiopia, other parts of Africa and cross culturally. Primary data was collected during fieldwork in the Afar and Tigrai regions of northern Ethiopia. Academics, students and readers with interest in ethnoarcheology, archaeology, anthropology, Ethiopian history, African studies, the evolution of societies, trade studies, salt studies will find this book useful and valuable.