What did they eat in ancient Africa?
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African Food

African bread
Wheat bread

December 2016 - Before people started farming, African hunters and gatherers ate mainly wild vegetables (roots and leaves), with some meat and fish and seafood and eggs. They also harvested some wild grain to eat. They got a lot of their fat from 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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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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