“Human history in Africa is immensely long. In fact, both archaeological research and genetic studies strongly support the theory that the evolution of the modern human species (Homo sapiens sapiens) occurred in Africa.”. Professor James Giblin, The University of Iowa.
“Human history in Africa is immensely long. In fact, both archaeological research and genetic studies strongly support the theory that the evolution of the modern human species (Homo sapiens sapiens) occurred in Africa.”
Professor James Giblin,
The University of Iowa
Large numbers of Africans lived in communities that did not feature cities and states.
Stateless societies have minimal or no government
involvement rather kinship relationships
Proximity to Eurasia – allowed parts of Africa to interact with Eurasian civilizations
-North Africa was incorporated into the Roman Empire and used to produce wheat and olives
-Christianity spread widely, giving rise to one of the early Church’s most important theologians, Saint Augustine (354-430 CE)
-Christian faith found an even more permanent foothold in the lands known today as Ethiopia
-the arrival of the domesticated camel, probably from Arabia, generated a nomadic pastoral way of life among some of the Berber peoples
Camels made possible trans-Saharan trade, which linked interior West Africa to the world of Mediterranean civilization. Over many centuries, the East African coast was a port of call of merchants and subsequently became an integral part of Indian Ocean trading networks.
A wide variety of economic specialties – merchants, weavers, potters, and masons
-Rural population did not need to concentrate so heavily along the Nile
-Less directly controlled from capital since state authorities were not required to supervise an irrigation system serving a dense population along the river
Meroë had a reputation for great riches in the classical world of northeastern Africa and the Mediterranean.
In the centuries following 100 CE, the Kingdom of Meroë declined, in part because of deforestation caused by the need for wood to make charcoal for smelting iron
-Generated substantial amounts of wheat, barley, millet, and teff, a highly nutritious grain unique to region
At Adulis, then the largest port on the East African coast, a wide range of merchants sought the products of the African interior – animal hides, rhinoceros horn, ivory, obsidian, tortoiseshells, and slaves.
Taxes on trade provided a major source of revenue for the Axumite state and the complex society that grew up within it.
The interior capital city, also known as Axum, was a center of monumental building and royal patronage of the arts
-The most famous of these were hug stone obelisks, which most likely marked royal graves
-Some of these obelisks were more than 100 feet tall
-At the time, were the largest structures in the world hewn from a single piece of rock
To the Romans, Axum was the third major empire within the world they knew, following their own and the Persian Empire.
Through its connections to Red Sea trade and the Roman world, particularly Egypt, Axum was introduced to Christianity in the fourth century CE
-Although Egypt became largely Islamic, Christianity maintained a dominant position in the mountainous terrain of highland Ethiopia and still represents the faith of perhaps half of the country’s population.
During the fourth through the sixth century CE, Axum mounted a campaign of imperial expansion that took its forces into the Kingdom of Meroë and across the Red Sea into Yemen in South Arabia.
The next several centuries were ones of decline for Axum due to soil exhaustion, erosion, and deforestation brought about by intensive farming as well as the rise of Islam which altered trade routes and diminished revenue available to Axum
In the middle stretches of the Niger River in West Africa, the classical era witnessed the emergence of a remarkable urbanization
-City of Jenne-jeno
-But apparent absence of a corresponding state structure
-Operated without the coercive authority of a state
-Emerged as clusters of economically specialized settlements
The spread of Bantu peoples was a slow movement that brought Africa south of the equator a measure of cultural and linguistic commonality, marking it as a distinct region
-ancestral or nature spirits
-belief in witches
-diviners, skilled in penetrating the world of the supernatural
-Agriculture generated a more productive economy
-Farmers brought with them both parasitic and infectious diseases to which foragers had little immunity
-Iron was another advantage the Bantu migrants had
Collected and translated into Spanish by Feliciano P. Eberardo
English translations from Spanish by Carl Rubino
“Nya b’a’n tu’n t-xi tca’yin muj ku’n nlayx b’et tak’in. It is not good to look at the clouds or your work will not progress.”
Mayan king Pacal
Mesoamerica, stretching from central Mexico to northern Central America, was geographically diverse (rain forests, highland plateaus, mountains, and valleys) and had substantial linguistic and ethnic diversity.
-Maize, beans, chili peppers, squash
-Mathematical system with concept of zero
-Place notations in math, capable of complex calculations
-Careful observation of night skies to plot the cycle of the plants
-Constructed elaborate calendars
-Calculated accurately the solar year
-Creation of the most elaborate writing system in the Americas
-Temples, pyramids, palaces, and public plazas abounded
-By 600 CE, the Maya drained swamps, terraced hillsides, flattened ridge tops, and constructed an elaborate water management system
-Supported a rapidly growing and dense population by 750 CE
-Highly fragmented political system of city-states, local lords, and regional kingdoms with no central authority
The Maya engaged in frequent warfare with the extensive capture and sacrifice of prisoners.
Densely populated urban and ceremonial centers ruled by powerful kings who were divine rulers mediating between humankind and the supernatural
A drought in 840 led to a drop of 85% or more of the population in the low-lying southern heartland of the Maya. The great cities were deserted.
Along the main north/south boulevard, now known as the Street of the Dead, were the grand homes of the elite, the headquarters of state authorities, many temples, and two giant pyramids.
-High in the Andes
-Situated on trade routes to both the coastal region to the west and the Amazon rain forest to the east
Chavín became a pilgrimage site and possibly a training center for initiates from distant centers. Much of the spread of Chavín religious imagery and practice paralleled the trade routes and while a widespread religious cult provided a measure of integration, there was no Chavín empire.
In these circumstances, the Moche were vulnerable to aggressive neighbors and possibly social tensions as well. But the Chavín and Moche civilizations were but two of the many that grew up in the Andes region before the Incas consolidated the entire area into a single empire.
The peoples of the Americas in the pre-Columbian era might be divided into three large groups
-Most prominent and well-known are those of the Mesoamerican and Andean regions, where cities, states, and dense populations created civilizations broadly similar to classical Eurasia
-Elsewhere, gathering and hunting peoples carried on ancient human adaptations to the environment
-Semi-sedentary people in the eastern woodlands of the United States, Central America, the Amazon basin, and the Caribbean islands engaged in agriculture but less intensive and supporting smaller populations
In Chaco canyon in what is now northwestern New Mexico, between 860 and 1130 CE, five major pueblos emerged.
Unlike the Chaco region in the southwest, the eastern woodlands of North America and especially the Mississippi River valley hosted an independent Agricultural Revolution. By 2000 BCE, domesticated local plant species but these few plants were not sufficient to support a fully settled agricultural village life. Gathering and hunting was needed to supplement diets.