Monday, November 14, 2011

Collapse of Empires: Ancient Kingdom of Somolia

I used to do more of these.  Since it has been a while, I will restate the intent of the exercise. 
Collapse of large societies (I am using a loose definition of empire) is viewed as an unusual, rare, historical event.   It is not.   If you speak of a collapsed Empire, most people will immediately recall Rome.  If pressed many will know about the Romans, the Egyptians, the Sumerians, and Mayans.   If you start talking about them, they might concede that the Russian Empire, one  of the most powerful in world history, collapsed at a societal level twice in the twentieth century alone.  This type of list would greatly extend the historical incidence from the rare to at least the somewhat uncommon category.
But that does not even start the list.  There are many many empires out there that dominated their little corner of the globe, occasionally with a rival or two, but none-the-less had pretty much their say of what went on in what today would expand beyond a number of countries.
So the point of exercise is to illustrate that large dominant societies regularly collapse.  Further, that the collapse is so severe that they are either completely forgotten, or difficult to retrace.
Ancient pyramid structures, tombs, ruined cities and stone walls such as the Wargaade Wall littered in Somalia are evidence of an ancient sophisticated civilization that once thrived in the Somali peninsula.  The findings of archaeological excavations and research in Somalia show that this ancient civilization had had an ancient writing system that remains undeciphered and enjoyed a lucrative trading relationship with Ancient Egypt and Mycenean Greece since at least the second millennium BC, which supports the view of Somalia being the ancient Kingdom of Punt. The Puntites "traded not only in their own produce of incense, ebony and short-horned cattle, but also in goods from other neighbouring regions, including gold, ivory and animal skins.”  According to the temple reliefs at Deir el-Bahari, the Land of Punt was ruled at that time by King Parahu and Queen Ati.
I was originally going to call the Empire in Question- Punt – but there is too much argument about the location of Punt, to be sure of its exact location.  We know there was something in Somalia that collapsed, and maybe it was Punt.
And that brings up the second point of these collapses, not only are they frequent, but they are often very complete.  In a few cases, the Empires that collapsed interacted with people who lived on and were able to record their existence,  occasionally left sufficient remains that we can piece together their story through archeology.  But many other times all we have are some very impressive ruins, and no real story at all.  There was this cool place Punt.  The Egyptians knew about it.  Maybe it was in Somalia.   Not a lot to say for a culture that built pyramids and temples, and based on the recorded trading data, obviously dominated their section of the world commercially if not militarily.
So elusive is the answer that, since the mid-19th century, a procession of scholars have, like erudite dart-throwers, stippled the map of the Red Sea area with their often strongly argued proposals for where Punt lay. (Refer to map below throughout this article.) Syria. Sinai. Southern Arabia. Eastern Sudan. Northern Ethiopia. Somalia. Kenya. Each was Punt, insists this or that Egyptologist. New papers continue to appear regularly that try to put this question to bed once and for all. So far, all have failed.

Egyptians traveling to Punt


russell1200 said...

Note: I deleted a comment. If you are going to link back to a URL on human growth hormones, I am going to set the bar a little higher on the relevance scale.

A two sentence comment on the Horn of Africa geography is not going to cut it.

Anonymous said...


I came here to find human growth hormones - can you point me to any?

Gotta love spam.

I think this is a great topic and one I'm not overly familiar with. Found this on Wikipedia;

And will spend some time looking it over.

russell1200 said...


There are so many disapeared Empires, Large Kingdoms, Cultures, etc. it is stunning.

I am reading Sing C. Chew's The Recurring Dark Ages, and he is bringing up societies that there is barely even a name for.

His work is from an ecological point of view (he does a lot with pollen samping) and they can show were the pollen count went from agricultual to herdsman based: and there really is no "written" records of these areas in Europe at all.

Lots of messy data, which is how you know they are not faking it.