Ancient civilizations of Africa have been largely forgotten by modern history. Africa has long been regarded as a continent of mystery and legend, of magic and myth. A land of pygmies and giants, of headhunters and tribal warriors, of wild men and talking beasts, of forests, deserts, and lakes. But the truth is far from fiction. There were many ancient civilizations scattered across the continent, living in a world that is now entirely unknown to many.
The ancient civilizations of Africa was once the most prosperous and powerful continent in the world. They had advanced technologies, complex societies, and advanced agriculture. But a cataclysmic event led to their downfall, and in the years that followed, the continent went through a period of dark ages. Today, the continent is home to some of the oldest cultures in the world, but few people realize that.
Here are some of the ancient civilizations of Africa that once were prosperous and advanced.
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Ancient Civilizations of Africa
Ancient Egypt: The Beginning of Civilization
Egypt was a civilization nation long before the beginning of recorded history. The first civilization developed in the Nile valley was about 10,000 years ago and it was called the Neolithic Revolution. Agriculture, writing, and government were invented here. The first cities were built and the first laws were written in this ancient African civilization.
Egypt became a great nation during this time. They conquered and lead other nations. They built massive structures and cities and survived for over 3,000 years.
Ancient Egypt Contributions
Egyptians built the Pyramids over 4,000 years ago and had a writing system hundreds of years before our own, giving us the first written records of history. During this time, the Egyptians built tombs for their kings out of giant stones.
The ancient Egyptians were very religious. They worshiped many Egyptian gods and goddesses. The most important god was Osiris. They built great pyramids and obelisks for their gods. In the New Kingdom, Egypt reached its greatest power. The Pharaoh was also a god on earth, called the “Son of Ra” or “Son of God.”
The Egyptians were the first people to write a complete alphabet, the Phoenician alphabet, which was borrowed by the Greeks and then passed on to the Romans. This is also when the Phoenicians were using the cuneiform writing system and the Greeks were using the Greek alphabet. They invented paper, a form of money, the wheel, and the harp. Hieroglyphs is the earliest form of written language and can be found throughout ancient Egyptian monuments.
They have also been found in other civilizations around the world, including China and Mesopotamia.
Ancient Ethiopia: The Birth of an Empire
Menelik’s reign in 10th BC was the golden age of Ethiopian civilization. During this time, the empire reached its height. It was an era of the Axumite Kingdom and Axum. At this time, Axum became the center of world trade and commerce and a place where Christianity was planted.
Axum was the first Christian kingdom in Africa and also the first to embrace Christianity as a state religion. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church continues to be based in Axum today.
The period of Ethiopian history known as the Axumite Kingdom is significant because it lasted for nearly two centuries. The kingdom lasted from 740 to 1270 when it was conquered by the invading Islamic army of Adal.
The Axumite Empire was the largest in Africa until the 13th century. They invented an Ethiopic script that has its own letters.
Ancient Nubia: A Kingdom Reborn
Ancient Nubia is a city in present-day Sudan. This ancient trading hub was founded in the 18th century BC, and it’s where many of the earliest hieroglyphs were discovered. Nubia was also a major center for commerce. For instance, this was one of the first places in the world to trade in salt, according to archaeological evidence. As such, it has several impressive pyramids and monuments that are worth exploring.
Nubia’s importance in the ancient world as a result of its position as the main route for trade between East and West. It was also a major source of gold, copper, and silver. The city of Napata, which was founded around 1500 BC, was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush, a major trading center, and the hub of commerce. The people of Napata were known for their goldsmiths and jewelers. A large percentage of the gold jewelry found in Tutankhamen’s tomb was made in Nubia.
Ancient Zimbabwe: The First of the Great Kingdoms
In about AD 1100, the Great Zimbabwe civilization was established in what is now eastern Zimbabwe. The construction of this city was made possible by a new method of farming. It was also the place where the first African writing was created. For thousands of years, this was one of the greatest civilizations in the world. The city, which was surrounded by fortifications, was designed to last and was built without the use of cement.
The residents were the ancestors of the Bantu people who live in southern and central Africa. The civilization thrived for about 900 years from AD 1000 to AD 1450. During this time, they built many stone buildings covered with mud, big and tall buildings, and palaces.
According to archaeologists, ancient Zimbabwe was home to the first known civilization in sub-Saharan Africa. Located near modern-day Botswana and Zambia, this region was also home to early humans that had made stone tools and other tools thousands of years ago. Evidence of this civilization can be found in what is now called the Great Zimbabwe ruins. Archaeologists who have studied these ruins believe that they were built by people from the eastern coast of Africa between 1000 and 1200 A.D. This is just one of the many early civilizations that once lived in the area.
Ancient Ghana: The Mother of Nations
The Ancient Ghana civilization, which was located in what is today the Northern region of Ghana, lasted from roughly at least the 6th to 13th century CE.
A group of researchers has found evidence that the Ghanaians, who lived around the 10th century AD, had a social structure similar to that of modern-day hunter-gatherers. That means they did not yet have a developed society and economy. Their lifestyle was based on subsistence farming, hunting, and fishing. They lived in clans or families, which were generally composed of brothers and sisters, parents and children.
The first written record of the Akan nation dates back to this period in the form of inscriptions on rock structures. The Akan civilization is one of the oldest civilizations in Africa, as far as the 8th century BC. The Akan people are believed to have developed out of the Asante tribe that migrated from West Africa to Ghana.
The Asante were ancient African people, who were part of the Akan ethnic group, lived in a region in present-day Ghana. Their chiefdom was located in the Ashanti region. The Asante people were renowned for their advanced architecture and art. They were known for their goldsmiths, potters, weavers, sculptors, and musicians. The Akan people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Ghana.
Ancient Ghana was a significant African civilization that spanned some time between 500BCE to 1300CE. It was one of the most complex and organized states to have ever existed, with infrastructure including a centralized administration, advanced agriculture, and a trade network that covered the entire country.
Today, according to the Ghana Statistical Service, the Akan people make up approximately 47.5 percent of the population of Ghana.
The ‘lost kingdoms’ of Africa were once a source of pride, power, and prestige to these African tribes. Today, they have been buried under time and history. Some of these lost kingdoms are now thought to have existed for over 20,000 years. Many of these civilizations were once great powers, and even ruled the lands of Ancient Egypt, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Greeks, and the Byzantines. For example, the Kingdom of Ghana (the first true independent kingdom in West Africa) had its currency (the Kente), a flag, a language, and even a king! The main reasons for this loss of wealth are the slave trade and the spread of Islam during the Middle Ages.