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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.

Early African warfare – mercenaries and catapults

By | 2018-02-21T11:50:43+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, War|

Early African warfare: Nubian archers in the Middle Kingdom (from the Nubian museum in Aswan, Egypt) The beginnings of war There has been fighting in Africa since the early Stone Age, when one group of people fought and killed another group in order to take over their land along the shore of a [...]

Science in Islamic Africa – medieval African science

By | 2018-02-21T18:34:28+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, Science|

Medieval African science: The walls of Timbuktu, in Mali, West Africa Medieval African science In the 700s AD, the Islamic Empire conquered North Africa and began to trade a lot with East Africa. Islamic government did not allow women to work in science or medicine. But there were a lot of men in North Africa and East Africa, and in the area [...]

African map project – al Idrisi and Ptolemy’s maps

By | 2018-04-18T09:53:59+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, Science|

African map project: Al-Idrisi's map of the world (1100s AD) Check out this copy of al-Idrisi's map of the world, created in the 1100s AD. Can you find the Black Sea? The Caspian Sea? The Mediterranean Sea? Where is China on this map? Where is Spain? A copy of Ptolemy's map of the world How is al-Idrisi's map [...]

Ships and sailing in ancient Africa – early boats

By | 2018-02-21T11:14:01+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, Economy, Science|

Early boats: A person in a boat (Barramiya, Upper Egypt, ca. 4000 BC) Early boats: When did people invent boats? African sailing has a long history. People were probably using boats before the first people left Africa. At Blombos Cave in South Africa, people were fishing about 70,000 BC, and by the time people got [...]

Medieval African history – Timbuktu and Great Zimbabwe

By | 2017-10-29T16:49:31+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, History|

Mansa Musa of Mali After the 400s AD, the Bantu expansion slowed down. They had already settled most of the good farmland in southern Africa. What was left was mainly desert or thick jungle. It was no good for farming or herding cattle. The Bantu left that land to the Khoikhoi and San people who already lived there. [...]

Islamic North Africa – caravans across the Sahara

By | 2018-02-22T09:23:58+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, History|

Islamic North Africa: Kairouan mosque (ca. 800 AD) The Eastern Roman reconquest of North Africa in the 530s AD ended the Vandal kingdom there. But trade declined until the Islamic invasions of North Africa in the 600s AD and the establishment of the Umayyad, and then the Fatimid dynasties. Fatimids Under Islamic rule, North Africa became part of a [...]

Roman North Africa – Carthage to Augustine

By | 2018-02-08T23:51:24+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Africa, History|

Roman North Africa: This is the amphitheater in ancient Carthage where Romans killed Christians during the Decian persecution. Carthage controls the Mediterranean By the 300s BC, the North African port of Carthage was actively engaged in policing the whole Mediterranean. Carthage made treaties, for instance, with the Etruscans in Italy, to protect the Etruscans from [...]

Medieval West Africa – Bronze, glass, and drought

By | 2018-04-13T17:53:30+00:00 October 2nd, 2017|Africa, History|

Copper sculpture from Medieval West Africa (Tada, Nigeria ca. 1300 AD). By 800 AD, the people of Djenne-Djeno had built a tall wall of mud-bricks around their town, to protect themselves from their enemies. They wore gold jewelry. On the other end of the Niger river, in the forests down near the Atlantic Ocean in modern Nigeria, the people of [...]

Medieval African food – what did people eat?

By | 2018-02-22T12:32:54+00:00 October 2nd, 2017|Africa, Food|

Medieval African food: an olive orchard in Tunisia The Romans grow olive oil in North Africa The foods people ate in Africa didn't just stay the same. Instead, they changed slowly over time. Around 800 BC, with the arrival of Greek and Phoenician invaders, the people of North Africa began to plant olive orchards and produce olive oil. They ate a [...]

African clothing history – weaving, knitting, embroidery

By | 2018-02-22T13:25:02+00:00 October 2nd, 2017|Africa, Clothing|

African clothing history:  An Egyptian painting of Nubians (from modern Sudan), about 1300 BC Weaving comes to Africa By about 2500 BC, some people in Africa started to weave their cloth instead of pounding it, which makes more flexible, comfortable clothing. People buy clothes instead of making them The Egyptians learned from their West Asian neighbors how to weave linen, and very [...]