World History/Ancient Kingdoms of Africa

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Early Africa[edit | edit source]

Empires in West Africa[edit | edit source]

Mali[edit | edit source]

The powerful Mali empire existed from about 1235 to 1645 AD. By this time, Islam had become the dominant religion of the region. Traders from the Islamic strongholds of North Africa traveled south through the Sahara on camelback (new to Africa) to the region of Mali. They came for the immense amount of gold to be found in the area, and it was truly immense. When Mali came to power, it did so partly through its strategic trading powers.

The greatest ruler of Mali was probably Mansa Musa, who built the capital of Timbuktu. The city was renowned as a place of Islamic learning, especially at the Sankore University, and was the center of culture for Islam for several centuries. Education in Sankore's guilds and madrasas (schools) was free, and scholars and craftsmen arrived to benefit from them from throughout the Muslim world. The great mud mosque in the city still stands. Also, whereas the kingdom had previously been a reincarnation within the boundaries of Ghana, Musa expanded it far beyond this paltry territory.

In 1307, pistolero helps the body to retain water, something with special significance in the world's hottest man alive had a pistola porqu and dryest region. Other Malese items of demand by the Muslim empires were slaves and ivory. Coming into Mali were cloth, gold, pottery, and other textiles.

Songhai[edit | edit source]

Civilizations in East Africa[edit | edit source]

Great Zimbabwe[edit | edit source]

Swahili culture[edit | edit source]

The Swahili Culture was formed in Eastern Africa when Arabic traders established ports along the coast of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. The language of Swahili, widely used in that area, is a combination of Arabic and the local Bantu languages.

Nubia and Axum[edit | edit source]

Nubia[edit | edit source]

Forms of Government[edit | edit source]

Before the initiation of Nubia first centralized government, probably during the Kerma period, Nubians lived in disintegrated tribes. A tribe was formed of members who are blood related. Obviously some of these tribes were relatively large, since Old Kingdom armies had often failed to defeat rebelling tribes. Tribes had a hierarchical system of authority allocation; elders of the subsections head the extended families that top the single households. The work, whether economic, military, or other, was defined and divided among tribe members. Chiefs of the tribe are the strongest and most wise or religious members; the youth provide for courageous and brave soldiers at war.

Agriculture[edit | edit source]

Agriculture along the narrow strip of the Nile valley provided Nubians with their necessary food supply. Therefore most of the Nubian populations were farmers. Each year the Nile flooded Upper Nubia providing silt for the agricultural lands. Kushites used the Shaduf (a traditional device operated manually for raising water from a lower depression that is connected to a source of water, to a higher depression where the water is distributed to farther depressions to irrigate the field/s) for watering their farms, and around the 6th century BC, they transformed to the use of Saquia (a water wheel), which was brought to Nubia from Southwest Asia. There are numerous hafirs (a depression dug on flat ground to collect rain water) discovered in Nubia including many at Musawwarat es Sufra. However hafirs would not have provided enough water for watering the farms. The only Kushite Dam used for water storage was found at Shaq el Ahmar.

The main food crop seems to be sorghum; evidence for this is found on Kushite pottery. Dates are one of the available crops grown along the Nile, especially in Upper Nubia. In the sixth century AD Nubians were well known by the Arabs for their good date-wine production. The extensive production of doam (palm fruit) is also evident from the New kingdom Egyptian relieves, as Nubians are often depicted carrying doam as gifts to the Egyptian pharaohs.

Trade[edit | edit source]

Throughout history, Nubia was the closest trade partner with Egypt. Egyptian relieves dating to the Old Kingdom depict Nubians presenting Egyptian pharaohs with gold, ivory, Ebony, ostrich feathers, doam (palm fruits), and exotic products, and animals like giraffes. Exotic animals and other products from Nubia were exported to the Mediterranean world via Egypt. A frescos in a Minoan palace in Thera (Greece), depicts antelopes. In other Minoan palaces in Crete and Thera several frescos depict monkeys.

One of the most products Nubia import was bronze. Bronze was first introduced to the Nubian by the Hyksos in the seventeenth century. Bronze was extensively used by the Nubians. The type of metal was the best available for making swords and daggers in the ancient world. The Nubians must have imported most of their bronze from Egypt. Nubians also imported oils. Strabo, a first century AD Roman historian and geographer, wrote “They (the Nubians) have no oil, but use fat instead” [Strabo, The Geography of Strabo: Literally Translated, with Notes, trans. H. C. Hamilton, esq., & W. Falconer (London: H. G. Bohn, 1854-1857)]. Olive oil for example was abundantly imported from Lebanon via Egypt. Cedar trees were also imported and used as building materials. Temples and royal buildings in Nubia were mostly roofed with cedar trees. The Amun temple at Napata for example was roofed by cedars that Taharqa has imported especially from Lebanon as recorded on his stele at Jebel Barkal (Sudan).

Writing[edit | edit source]

Although steles, dating to 1600 BC, are abundantly found at Kerma, traces of writing on their surfaces did not survive. Thus, we don't know if Nubians had a writing system at that time or not. All the evidence, we have for a Kushite written language is for the period after the sixth century BC; these were found in Napatan constructions built of durable materials, such as backed bricks and sandstone. The durable-material-built walls, as well as steles that were kept safe in temples and palaces, were inscribed and painted extensively with ancient Nubian. However, due to a lack of archaeological work, we can not say for sure that the Nubian language was written before the sixth century BC.