- Reinhard Klein-Arendt
Overview. “African Studies” is a broad term. It is understood here as the systematic study of African civilizations. The earliest documents originate from antiquity (Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire). Islamization of Northern Africa and the emerging trading connections between the Middle East and East Africa from the seventh century on brought about large quantities of geographical, religious, and ethnographic accounts by Muslim scholars. European penetration of the continent from the sixteenth century onward also resulted in numerous linguistic, ethnographic and historical descriptions. In the wake of colonial studies modern African Studies emerged, among them African linguistics (“africanistics”), ethnology, and archaeology.
The History of African Studies: An Outline. The museum and library of Alexandria, which was established in the third century b.c.e. and survived to the third century c.e. contained the written works on literature history exploration geography and medicine from among others Ancient Egypt and the Nile Valley ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought.