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All about the continent of Africa, from prehistory to modern times, with maps, environment, history, art, architecture, food, clothing, and more.

Third Punic War – Carthage and Rome

By | 2017-09-03T21:50:19+00:00 September 3rd, 2017|Africa, History, Romans|

The ruins of Punic Carthage After the Second Punic War, in 202 BC, Italy was a wreck. Hannibal's army had been marching up and down Italy wrecking things for more than ten years. All of the men had been away fighting in the war, and a lot of them had been killed, and others had decided to [...]

Moses and Egypt – Bible stories

By | 2017-08-24T13:26:33+00:00 August 24th, 2017|Africa, Religion, West Asia|

The Pharaoh's daughter picks Moses up out of his basket (synagogue at Dura Europos, Syria, 200s AD) According to the Book of Exodus in the Bible (Exodus means leaving, because this is the book about the Jews leaving Egypt), the Jews did very well in Egypt after Joseph brought them there, and there got to be a [...]

African-American slavery – American history

By | 2017-08-14T12:32:25+00:00 August 14th, 2017|Africa, North America, People|

Slave fort in Ghana Although other people, both white and Native American, have been held as slaves in North America, the experience of the African people who were forced to come to North America as slaves was more unusual, because more than half of the people living in slave states were slaves. Most of the people who became [...]

The Vandals – Early Middle Ages

By | 2017-09-03T15:11:45+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|Africa, History, Medieval|

The Rhine river, frozen over The Vandals first entered the collapsing Roman Empire from Germany in the winter of 409 AD. They crossed the frozen Rhine river with a group of Alans and Sueves. The Vandals were taking advantage of a rebellion within the Empire that kept the Romans from defending themselves well. The Vandals (with the Alans and [...]

Hafsid Dynasty – Medieval Islam

By | 2017-10-29T17:42:34+00:00 July 24th, 2017|Africa, History, Islam|

Hafsid gold coin In the early 1200s AD, the Almohad empire fell apart into Marinid, Christian, and Hafsid kingdoms. The middle of North Africa broke away from the Almohad dynasty in 1229 AD. Modern Tunisia, western Libya, and eastern Algeria came under the leadership of Abu Zakariya. People called his descendants the Hafsids, because they belonged to the powerful Banu Hafs [...]

Fatimid Caliphate – Medieval Islam

By | 2017-10-29T17:39:55+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Egypt, History, Islam|

Bab Zuweila (Cairo, 1092 AD) In 908 AD, a new family rose up in Egypt and took control of Egypt from the Abbasids. This family was called the Fatimids, after Mohammed's daughter Fatima, because they claimed to be descended from her. The family began as leaders of a heretical Shiite Islamic sect, the Ismailis (ish-my-EEL-ees), in Yemen in the [...]

Medieval Islamic government

By | 2017-07-23T17:38:00+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Government, Islam, West Asia|

The Umayyad caliph Muawiya From the beginning, the Islamic Empire was a monarchy like the Roman Empire or the Sassanian Empire before it. One man ruled the Islamic Empire.  In the beginning, people called this man a caliph (KAY-liff), and his assistant was a vizier (vizz-EER). Those were Arabic words for leaders and their assistants. Under them were governors for each province of [...]

Medieval Islamic games

By | 2017-07-23T17:11:39+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Games, Islam, West Asia|

Muslims playing chess in Spain The big new game of the Islamic Empire was chess. The Arabs learned to play chess from the Sassanians when they conquered them, and probably the Sassanians learned chess from people in India. Indian people themselves seem to have learned at least some version of chess from people in China. [...]

Umayyad architecture – Islam

By | 2017-07-23T08:21:29+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Architecture, Islam, West Asia|

Dome of the Rock mosque, Jerusalem People didn't build a lot of new buildings during the Umayyad period. They were busy getting organized after the Islamic conquests, and the Umayyad dynasty didn't rule very long. But what they did build was new and exciting. The Umayyads, who were conquering everything, had pots of money to [...]

What is a mosque? Islamic architecture

By | 2017-07-23T08:00:37+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Architecture, Islam, West Asia|

Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo (Egypt, 900s AD) A mosque (MAH-SK) is a kind of building where people who follow the Islamic faith pray to God. People first built mosques in the 600s AD, when the Arabs conquered Jerusalem and other parts of West Asia. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is one of the earliest mosques. It stands on [...]