Africa

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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. A good choice for reports in school or for homeschoolers.

A first section on history runs from the first evolution of primates in Africa, through the early empires in Egypt and Sudan, to the medieval empires in West Africa and East Africa. We make clear the high cost of European domination of trade, but also that actual European colonization was mostly a late nineteenth century phenomenon, and that African countries are again independent today. Climate change plays a major role in the collapse at the end of the Bronze Age, and in a late medieval collapse associated with the Little Ice Age, as well as increasingly today with global warming.

A second section deals with daily life in Africa: food, clothing, tools, the use of bronze and iron, music and dance, the kind of games kids played, the history of swimming in Africa, and what kinds of houses, temples, chuches and mosques they built.

In a third section, there are many articles about African trade and economics. African people domesticated donkeys and sorghum, and figured out how to incubate chicken eggs. They exported high quality iron ore, dried fish, hardwoods, acacia gum, copper, and gold to India and Iran.

Finally, there are a series of fun activities to encourage active learning. Most of these require little or no special materials. Some are intended to be done in groups, and others can be done alone.

3 10, 2017

Early African warfare – mercenaries and catapults

By |2019-08-21T09:18:19-07:00October 3rd, 2017|Africa|0 Comments

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 [...]

3 10, 2017

Science in Islamic Africa – medieval African science

By |2019-08-21T09:21:51-07:00October 3rd, 2017|Africa|0 Comments

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 [...]

3 10, 2017

African map project – al Idrisi and Ptolemy’s maps

By |2019-08-21T09:22:35-07:00October 3rd, 2017|Africa|0 Comments

African map project: Al-Idrisi's map of the world (1100s AD) What's new about al Idrisi's map? Check out this copy of al-Idrisi's map of the world, created in the 1100s AD. Who was al-Idrisi? More about African science All our Africa articles Can you find the Black Sea? The Caspian Sea? The Mediterranean Sea? Where is China on this [...]

3 10, 2017

Ships and sailing in ancient Africa – early boats

By |2019-08-21T09:31:01-07:00October 3rd, 2017|Africa|2 Comments

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. African science and inventions History of [...]

3 10, 2017

Medieval African history – Timbuktu and Great Zimbabwe

By |2019-08-21T09:31:28-07:00October 3rd, 2017|Africa|1 Comment

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. [...]

3 10, 2017

Islamic North Africa – caravans across the Sahara

By |2019-08-21T09:31:54-07:00October 3rd, 2017|Africa|0 Comments

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 [...]

3 10, 2017

Roman North Africa – Carthage to Augustine

By |2019-08-21T09:32:16-07:00October 3rd, 2017|Africa|0 Comments

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 [...]

2 10, 2017

Medieval West Africa – Bronze, glass, and drought

By |2019-08-21T09:32:40-07:00October 2nd, 2017|Africa|0 Comments

Copper sculpture from Medieval West Africa (Tada, Nigeria ca. 1300 AD). Djenne-Djeno's walls By 800 AD, the people of Djenne-Djeno had built a tall wall of mud-bricks around their town. The wall would protect them from their enemies. (But as we will see, in the end this didn't work!) The people of Djenne-Djeno were rich. Many of [...]

2 10, 2017

Medieval African food – what did people eat?

By |2019-10-14T14:43:21-07:00October 2nd, 2017|Africa|2 Comments

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 [...]

2 10, 2017

African clothing history – weaving, knitting, embroidery

By |2019-08-21T09:33:22-07:00October 2nd, 2017|Africa|0 Comments

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. What is weaving? Earlier African clothing All our Africa articles People buy clothes instead of making [...]