Saylor.org's Ancient Civilizations of the World/African Civilizations

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Four major areas of civilization emerged in early Africa: the grasslands south of the Sahara, western Africa, the northern desert regions, and eastern Africa. Each area was unique, but the regions became more interconnected as a result of two major developments: the domestication of the camel and the arrival of Islam in Africa. The camel facilitated trade over long distances, including the vast Sahara Desert, while Islam connected Africa more closely to cultures and trade systems in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

In this unit, we will examine the emergence of highly varied African kingdoms. Some, such as Mwenemutapa, developed in isolation from much of the rest of Africa, while others, such as the Swahili kingdoms in east Africa, were heavily influenced by the Arab world. We will pay close attention to commercial and agricultural advancements in Africa as well as to the rise and impact of Islam.

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