The development of urbanism in the northern Horn of Africa in ancient and medieval times
By Rodolfo Fattovich
The Development of Urbanism from a Global Perspective, edited by P.J.J.. Sinclair (Uppsala University, 1996)
Introduction: The aim of this paper is to outline the development of urbanism in the northern Horn of Africa from prehistoric to medieval times (c. 4000 BC–AD 1500) based on the available archaeological and historical evidence. This development is investigated as a ‘historical process’ in order to make evident the specific factors that affected the rise and collapse of urbanism in the region.
The area under examination corresponds to the Tigrean plateau and the adjacent plains and is delimited by the Tekkeze river to the south, the Red Sea to the northeast, the Eritreo-Sudanese lowlands to north and west, and the Danakil depression to the east. It includes part of modern Tigray (Ethiopia), Eritrea, and the Eritreo-Sudanese borderland. The northern Horn of Africa is an environmental mosaic, with a complicate intermingling of different ecozones. The region is cut to the west by the draining basins of the Barka, Mareb/Gash and the Tekkeze rivers.