What did they eat in ancient Africa?
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African Food

African bread
Wheat bread

January 2017 - Before people started farming, African hunters and gatherers ate mainly fruit (especially figs), with some meat and fish and seafood and eggs. They also harvested wild grain and nuts to eat. They got a lot of their fat from nuts and palm oil. By 7000 BC, people in North Africa also began herding cattle, imported from Central Asia through West Asia. People milked the cows and made yogurt and cheese.

Around 6000 BC, as the climate changed and the Sahara Desert gradually took over the grasslands, it got harder to get food and so some African people began to farm some of their food. By 4000 BC, Ethiopians and Eretrians had domesticated a grain called teff, and in Nubia people had domesticated millet. In North Africa and Egypt, people farmed millet too, but also, the wheat and barley, lentils and chickpeas that had already been domesticated in West Asia. So these people began to eat mainly pita bread and porridge and barley soups, like the people of West Asia. People in Egypt also made their barley into beer.

Around the same time, African people also got sheep and goats from West Asia. North Africans also fished, especially for tuna.

Sometime around 1500 BC, during the Egyptian New Kingdom, people in Egypt started to eat chicken. Around the same time, rich people stopped eating pork, which became taboo (forbidden) for them.

African food further south - Millet and Yams
Food in medieval Africa

Bibliography and further reading about African food:

Food and Recipes of Africa (Kids in the Kitchen.) by Theresa M. Beatty
The People of Africa and Their Food (Multicultural Cookbooks) by Ann Burckhardt

A Taste of West Africa (Food Around the World) by Colin Harris

African Food
Africa Crafts and Projects
Ancient Egyptian Food
Islamic Food
Indian Food
Ancient Africa
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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