History of Early Africa
Experience the History of Early Africa with WisdomMaps: The Future of the Past!
Our digital history of early Africa begins with the emergence of archaic humans in East Africa. The earliest written history arose in Ancient Egypt, and later spread through Nubia and the Sahel to the Horn of Africa. North African history became entwined with the empire of Islam, which expanded into Southern Europe. Meanwhile, the expansion of the Bantu peoples swept from Central Africa across the Sahel in waves beginning around 1000 BC. This created a community of related languages across much of central and southern Africa.
Farther south, the Nok culture developed in 1500 BC in what is now Nigeria. The Nok produced terracotta figures of human heads and forms and various animals, and by 500 BC they had developed an iron industry. But by 200 AD the Nok culture had vanished. Based on stylistic similarities, the bronze figurines of the kingdoms of Ife and Benin appear to have been derived from the traditions of the earlier Nok culture.
During the 7th century AD, the empire of Islam began to spread west from Arabia to Egypt and went on to become the foundational faith of the West African empires of Mali, Ghana, and Songhai. Before the onset of European colonialism, Africa had some 10,000 different states and tribes with their own languages and customs.
That said, here’s our assortment… please enjoy! When you’re done perusing a map, click the ⇠ back arrow link in the upper left of your screen (not the < link), and you’ll be back here. Any problems, please get in touch at [email protected].
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Early Africa Index | Communities • Environment • Migration | Central Africa: Kongo | East Africa: Kush • Land of Punt • Swahili City-States: Society • Economy | East Africa: Economy | Ethiopia: Christianity | Southern Africa: Great Zimbabwe | West Africa: Hausa States: Bornu • Gobir • Kanem • Kano • Zazzau | Kingdom of Benin | Kingdom of Ife | Kingdom of Oyo | Sudanic Kingdoms: Ghana: Society • Power • Economy | Mali: Power | Songhai
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