These pages are no longer being updated, however they will remain available for all who are interested.
* Undefined Areas
These are simply areas about which there is difficulty in gaining
evidence. Lack of written records requires reliance upon the efforts of
archaeologists who are themselves limited by the political or economic
stability in a particular area. As African political and economic stability
progresses, more opportunities for study will develop.
in Africa http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/CIVAFRCA/CIVAFRCA.HTM
History Sourcebook: Accounts of Meröe, Kush, and Axum, c. 430 BCE
- 550 CE http://www.fordham.edu/halsallll/ancient/nubia1.html
Neolithic Cultures of Thessaly, Crete, and the Cyclades http://devlab.dartmouth.edu/history/bronze_age/lessons/2.html
Egypt is the longest lasting, continuous civilization in western
history. Gradually developing in the period from 5000 to 3000 BCE and lasting
until 30 BCE, Egypt had ruled the Nile from the Mediterranean Delta to
the first cataract (steep rapids in the river), through 32 dynasties (counting
the Ptolomiac rulers as the last dynasty - even though they were Greek,
they maintained Egypt's unique character), being conquered numerous times
only to rebound into a solid healthy political economic power that was
uniquely that of the Nile's people.
The Nile made Egypt possible as it annually spread fertile silt from
its tributaries, down into the desert regions of north eastern Africa and
creating an environment where farmers could produce a quantity of crops
well beyond their yearly needs. The Nile also became a commercial highway
bringing goods, culture and people into and through Egypt from all parts
of the ancient world.
There is some controversy about the racial make-up of the Egyptian
people, i.e. whether they were White or Black. This is a simplistic approach
to a much more complicated set of circumstances since Egypt's stratigic
location brought people in from the south with Nubian and equitorial African
influence and from the northern coast of Africa and the Middle East with
Afro-Mediterranean and Semitic influences. The Biblical record places Egypt
among the "Black" countries. Melanin dosage tests of mummified remains
(controversial due to damage caused by the embalming process) seem to indicate
a level of melanocytes consistant with a people of a semi tropical to temperate
climate zone. Their own artistic evidence is far from conclusive as it
shows different pigments of skin colour from one period to the next and
from one artist to the next.
To say that Egyptian people exclusively ethincally "White", i.e.
were not ethnically African, would be to pull them out of their own home
land and link them with a people farther removed from them than the indigenous
people of their own continent and climate. To say that they were exclusively
ethnically "Black" would be to ignore their position in the crossroads
of history. It's more reasonable to say that Egypt was a gateway for the
meeting and interchange of goods, ideas, and people; and that the Egyptians
were themselves a unique expression of human strength, beauty, intelligence
PRE-DYNASTIC PERIOD: c.5000-3100 BCE
This was a period of small tribal communities with local leaders,
each competing for land along the Nile. This era saw the development of
hieroglyphics and a solar calendar consisting of 12 months of 30 days each
with five festival days added at the end of each year. Trade with the Middle
East was evident.
Gradually, this period saw the development of city-states with the
unification of individual tribes until the fusion of tribes into the two
states of Upper Egypt in the south and Lower Egypt in the north.
EARLY DYNASTIC PERIOD & OLD KINGDOM: 3100-2280 BCE; Dynasties
Lower Egypt was in a position to develop more quickly than Upper
Egypt, however, at about 3200 BCE Upper Egypt's King Menes (Narmer) conquered
Lower Egypt and united the two. At this time the crowns of the two Egypts
were combined into one Crown of the Pharaoh (lit. "royal" or "great house")
and the First Dynasty of Egypt was begun. The Pharaoh was not just a political
leader, but also the chief priest, and was bound by law to follow certain
strictures, one of which was to marry only within his own family to retain
the purity of the Pharaonic line. Menes built the city of Memphis (lit.
"white walls") as the seat of government and continued the push to unify
Egypt. This effort to unify the region characterized most of the Old Kingdom
Period and was finally accomplished by the end of the period in 2200 BCE.
FIRST INTERMEDIATE PERIOD: 2280-2040 BCE; Dynasties VII-X
This was a period of breakdown of central authority, of social chaos,
and of civil war. With the death of Pharaoh Pepi II (the last of the Old
Kingdom pharaohs) at the age of 100, the Old Kingdom disintegrated. The
nomarks (local leaders - lit. leaders of the nomes, or villages) of Upper
Egypt had been gaining power throughout the Sixth Dynasty and in the confusion
brought on by the Pharaoh's death took power for themsleves. This period
saw the spread of poverty throughout all classes of Egyptians while local
principalities battled each other. Out of this chaos came a new individualism
and an ideal of social equity and dignity for common people.
MIDDLE KINGDOM: 2040-1785 BCE; Dynasties XI/XII
Thebes became the capital, and through force of arms, Egypt was once
again united (at the expense to one degree or another of the newly won
individualism). Pharaoh Menthuhotep reorganized the country's administration.
the peace of the Old Kingdom was long past, and the occassional revolt
in the Middle Kingdom was crushed with an iron hand.
The beginning of the Twelth Dynasty saw the capital moved to Ithet-Tawi
("holder of the two lands") a bit south of Memphis. Amenenmhet I established
himself there to better control lower Egypt, and set his son up as regent,
mainly as a protection against palace conspiracy. He also planned the subjugation
of Nubia and established an outpost at Kerma near the third cataract.
Lower Nubia was conquered and made into an Egyptian provence and
ambitious building, irrigation and agricultural projects brought greater
prosperity to Egypt.
SECOND INTERMEDIATE PERIOD: 1786-1580 BCE; Dynasties XIII-XVII
Western migrations of Asiatic and Semitic people into the area, and
the invasion of the Hyksos (Hka-Hasut, "rulers of foreign countries" in
Egyptian) brings the Middle Kingdom to a close. It wasn't a single invasion,
but a gradual infiltration of several groups of Semitic people coupled
with a general decline in the Thirteenth Dynasty that brought the change
to the landscape. The pharaohs begin to carry Hyksos names and presumably
Hyksos heritage and establish their capital at Hat-Wert (Avaris).
The Hyksos Period was a time of great shame and humiliation for Egypt.
It was the first time Egypt had ever found itself under foreign domination,
sending a sense of shock to their feelings of supremacy and of security
under the protection of their gods.
(Conjecturally, this could be the time that is Biblically described
as the entry of the Hebrews, lead by Joseph, into the land of Egypt. Logically,
the details seem to fit with the Hyksos Kings being in power, and their
Semitic connection. Egyptian records of this are scant, if they exist at
all, and may have been destroyed as the Egyptians were notorious for editing
out of their history events and people that they did not like remembered.)
The horse and chariot are introduced, during this time, as well as
body armour. With these, the Egyptians drive the Hyksos from Egypt and
NEW KINGDOM: 1580-1070 BCE; Dynasties XVIII-XX
Thebes is reestablished as the capital and Egypt's control expands
as far north as Lebanon and as far south as the third cateract in Nubia
establishing Egypt as a world power. The Luxor temple is built along with
numerous other monuments, temples, palaces and cities.
During this time, Egypt saw the rise of the very powerful Queen Hatshepsut,
followed by her son Thutmose III who became the "Napoleon" of ancient Egypt.
This time also saw a period of religious rebellion by the Pharaoh Amenhotep
IV (Akhenaton) and Queen Nefertiti, who introduced monotheism and a period
of individualism and natural artistic expression for a brief time, to Egypt.
This period also saw the reign of Ramesses II, who is recognized as one
of Egypts greatest builders and may have been the Pharaoh of the Biblical
The New Kingdom could be considered a "Golden Age" for Egypt, and
was certainly a period of great achievement.
THIRD INTERMEDIATE PERIOD: 1070-332 BCE; Dynasties XXI-XXXI
The Assyrians in the north under Sargon II beat Egypt back to the
Sinai, the Lybians took power and ruled Egypt until defeated by the Nubians,
who in their turn pushed back by the Assyrians. The Persians invaded, were
expelled and for a brief time Egypt was ruled by Egyptians until a final
Persian invasion in 343 BCE which remained in control until Alexander the
Great defeated the Persians and entered Egypt in 332 BCE.
PTOLEMAIC PERIOD: 332-30 BCE
Alexander ordered the building of the city of Alexandria and its
great library and instituted religious freedom throughout his vast empire,
but was greatly enthralled by Egyptian culture and won the hearts of the
Egyptian people. Upon his death he is succeeded by Philip Arrhidaeus and
In 305 BCE, the Macedonian General Ptolemy became the first of the
Ptolomaic Pharaohs who ruled until the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BCE,
when Rome took control of Egypt.
ROMAN PERIOD: 30 BCE - c. 450 CE
Octavian (Roman Emperor Augustus) defeated Marc Anthony and Cleopatra
VII at the battle of Actium. Upon entering Egypt, the Romans found that
Anthony and Cleopatra had both committed suicide leaving Egypt to Roman
Egyptian culture steadly declined from that time with neglect from
the Romans, steady pressure from Christianity, and later Islam, until the
former infrastructure of ancient Egypt lay forgotten and in ruin under
the desert sand, and modern Islamic culture took its place.
Basic Lessons in
- The First Steps http://www.fnspo.cz///mmm/egypt/hiero/1.htm
RIGBY'S WORLD OF EGYPT
Official Internet Site
of: The Ministry of Tourism, Egypt http://www.touregypt.net/
THE 1st NUBIAN AGE: 3100 -1000 BCE
Kush began just north of the first cataract of the Nile River and
extended beyond the sixth cataract to present day Khartoum. Early culture
centered around a settlement at Kerma. In this first Bronze Age era, three
people are identified as the beginning Nubian people. They are called the
"A-Group", the "C-Group", and the "Kerma Culture". The "A" & "C" groups
were largely dominated by Egypt and centered in the Lower Nile, while the
Kerma Culture centered in the Upper Nile and traded extensively with Egypt
and the Eastern Mediterranaen. Kerma itself was a trading centre established
as an Egyptian trading post with Egyptian administrators, soldiers, and
artisans, but also seems to have been the residence of the Nubian chief
and the centre of Nubian government.
EGYPTIAN COLONIZATION & THE EMERGENCY OF THE KINGDOM OF KUSH:
1550 - 590 BCE
Egypt, during its Eighteenth Dynasty, took control of the Nubian
territories and named Lower Nubia "Wawat", and Upper Nubia "Kush". During
this time the Nubian culture was gradually "Egyptianized", but retained
much of its special Sudanese/Nubian character. Shortly after the end of
the Twentieth Dynasty, Egypt lost control of Nubia and the area declined
until around 900 BCE when a Nubian monarchy began to emerge with its capital
at Napata. By 770 BCE, the Kingdom of Kush had extended its borders north
to the bounbaries of the Upper Nile and began to take a leading role in
African affairs that was to last 1000 years. From 750 to 730 BCE, Kush
pushed northward, captured Egypt from Lybian control and moved their capital
to Thebes. Kushite rulers adopted a crown which has a double cobra signifying
Nubia and Egypt as their domain. Some of the Egyptian people welcome Kushite
rule, seeing them as civilized people and not barbarians (likely due to
cultural similarities). Then in 666 BCE, the Assyrians invaded Egypt and
drove Kush back up the Nile (apparently in response to aid given to Palistine,
Jerusalem and Syria against Assyria). As Kush retreated, they took with
them the Egyptian religios traditions of Amon, performed worship ceremonies
in the temple in Napata, supplanting the Kushite god Apedemak.
NAPATAN PERIOD: 590-300 BCE
In 591 BCE, Egypt invaded Kush and Napata was captured and the Kushite
king transfered the capital to Meroe, near the sixth cataract creating
greater distance between Kush and Egypt. When Persia invaded Egypt at about
525 BCE, they stopped at Kush's northern border. Owing to the distance
of Meroe to the Northern border, and that Kush posed little threat to the
Persians, Kush remained relatively peaceful during this time. However,
Napata remained the religious centre and royal cemetary of Kush until about
300 when the royal burial site was moved to Meroe, as well, bringing an
end to the Napatan Period.
TRANSITIONAL PERIOD: 300 - 270 BCE
While the rulers of Kush were no longer buried at Napata, they still
kept allegiance to the Temple of Amon, gradually making the transition
to Meroe and the worshop of the Kushite god Apedemak.
EARLY MEROITIC PERIOD: 270 - 90 BCE
The move to Meroe weakened the Egyptian influence and enlivened the
Sudanese character of Kush. Trade with Egypt (Now under the rule of the
Ptolomies) and with Asia (India especially) was growing, and Kush even
entered into joint building projects with Egypt at their common border.
MIDDLE MEROITIC: 90 BCE - 1 CE
Trade routes from the interior of Africa passed through Kush and
up the Nile to the Mediterranaen and apparently through Kush to Asia as
well. Images of the Kushite god Apedemak from this era show strong Indian
influence as they were rendered in a classic Indian style. Kush enjoyed
an economically stragetic position, bolstering its power and importance
in the Classical World.
This time marks the height of Meroitic Civilization. Kush is ruled
by both kings and queens equally, with the queen, or Kandake (from which
we get the present day female name of Candice) often taking the leading
role in civil and international affairs.
Rome gained control of Egypt and all of the north African coastline
and exacted tribute from Kush. Kush, called "Aethiopia" by the Romans (not
to be confused with the present Ethiopia which was called Abyssinia by
the Romans - see Axum), seeing Rome edge into lower Nubia, attacked and
sacked the Roman outposts at Elephantine and Syene. the Romans retaliated
and conquered the Kushite towns of Dakka and Premnis. Then Rome marched
on Napata where the queen was in residence. She sued for peace and was
refused. Rome then attacked Napata and razed it to the ground, making slaves
of their captives. After that Rome fortified Premnis and kept it as their
southernmost border while waging a three year war with Kush.
Finally, the Kandake marched upon Premnis and sued for peace, appealing
to August Caesar. Impressed with the Kandake's appeal, and probably being
aware that Rome had overextended itself at so distant a border, He accepted
at about 20 BCE. Kush was freed from further tribute, the borders were
established at their Ptolomaic location, and Premnis was returned to Kushite
LATE MEROITIC: 1 - 350 CE
While the Kushite kingdom was economically and politically strong
at the beginning of the Late Meroitic period, it was soon to enter a cycle
of decline. With the rise of Axum, trade routes shifted, and Kushite commercial
interests faded. Decline was further complicated with an ecological decline
of the area causing less agricultural production and the gradual migration
of the population from the area. Border skirmishes with tribal factions
and internal struggles also added to the decline.
With Rome trading with Axum and shifting its interests from Kush,
the Kushite Kingdom became more and more isolated. In 298 CE, Rome finally
evacuated the northern borders of Kush. In an apparent bid to regain some
economic parody, Kush seems to have attacked Axum, in retaliation for which
Axum over-ran Kush, occupied Meroe, and brought about the total collapse
of Kush as a civilization in 350 CE.
Nubia: Egypt's Rival in Africa http://www.umich.edu/~kelseydb/Exhibits/AncientNubia/index.html
INSTITUTE MUSEUM NUBIA - "Its glory and its people" http://www-oi.uchicago.edu/OI/PROJ/NUB/NUBX/NUBX_brochure.html
NUBIA SALVAGE PROJECT http://www-oi.uchicago.edu/OI/PROJ/NUB/Nubia.html
"The Axum (Aksum) people developed when Kush speaking people in Ethiopia
migrating from the Sahara and Semitic speaking people from southern Arabia
(the Sabaeans) settled in the area known as the Abysinian Plateau around
500 BCE and intermingled into one culture. This was a strategic position
in the trade routes between Asia and Kush affording easy access to Arabic
trade routes and the Mediterranaenvia the Red Sea. The area was agriculturally
well suited, politically defensible, and allowed the possibility of undisturbed
cultural development. They spoke a Semitic language and wrote in a Semitic
We have scant knowledge about the early Axumite kingdom. Apparently
following a feudal system, they had a single king (the "Negus"), who ruled
over princes who paid him tribute. By the first century C.E. the principal
city was Axum, and the port city of Adulis became a major trading port
that attracted Greek and Jewish traders and merchants.
Adulis served as a crossroads to a variety of cultures: Egyptian,
Kushite, Sudanic, Arabic, Middle Eastern, and Indian.
In the second century C.E., Axum acquired tribute states on the Arabian
Peninsula across the Red Sea, overtook northern Ethiopia, and then finally
conquered Kush. The conquest and distruction of the Kushite Empire gave
Axum complete control of the most important trade routes and one of the
most fertile regions in the world.
The original Axumite religion was a polytheistic religion which believed
in gods that controlled the natural world. In the fourth century, King
Ezana, converted to Christianity and declared Axum to be a Christian state,
and began actively prosylitizing the population. Not many of the people
accepted Christianity at first, but Christianity gradually supplanted the
old religion. The move was politically and commercially beneficial to Axum
in that Rome was undergoing similar conversion, and the Roman capital wes
being relocated to Constantinople.
Axum remained a strong empire and trading power until the rise of
Islam in the seventh century AD. As Islam sprread, the trade routes changed
and commercially isolated Axum. The fall of Rome spelled out a fall for
Axum as well as Axum could not maintain the linking trade routes that Rome
had so long maintained. By the end of the seventh century, Axum as a power
had ended giving rise to the modern Ethiopean people.
in Africa - Axum http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/CIVAFRCA/AXUM.HTM
Horn of Africa: Axum (Aksum) (4th - 7th c. A.D.) http://www.hp.uab.edu/image_archive/um/umn.html
Early indigenous Libyan and North coast cultures have left few clues
and no written history. Prior to the Phoenician invason, there seem to
have been mostly neolithic, pre-bronze age cultures. Since these cultures
were introduced to iron by the Phoenicians, they never passed through a
bronze age of their own.
The founding of Carthage was precipitated by Phoenician migration
into the western Mediterranean (traditionally from Tyre) in search of raw
materials, principally metals such as gold, silver, copper and tin. The
Phoenician name for Carthage was "Kart Hadasht", "New City". Earliest archaeological
evidence places settlement at the middle of the 8th century BCE, while
tradition places it's founding at 814 BCE.
For about the first two hundred years, it remained little more than
a small settlement, but the loss of influence of Tyre, and Tyre's subjugation
by Babylon, and growing competition from Greek settlements (starting in
about 580 BCE) in Sicily (principly Selinus and Syracuse) thrust Carthage
into the need to enter into alliances with other Phoenician settlements
in the western Mediterranean and Spain, and with the Etruscans on the west
coast of Italy. Joint victories in repelling the Greeks propelled Carthage
into a position of power. From this point, Carthage began to hire mercenary
troops (mostly native Lybians) as its citizenry was too small to maintain
the burden military of regional leadership. A final defeat of a Carthaginian
invasion of Sicily in 480, and the Persian invasion of Greece brought seventy
years of peace and a western Mediterranean trading monopoly for Carthage.
For Carthage, trade seems to have been the singular industry, and
since very little archeaological evidence of the legendary wealth of Carthage
remains, it would seem that their trade was in raw materials and non-durable
goods. At this point, Carthage maintained control of settlements in northern
Africa and in southern Spain, and controled the shipping routes through
most of the Mediterranean.
The three Punic Wars (264 to 146 BCE) gradually whittled away Carthage's
dominance of the Mediterranean, and ended in the utter distruction of the
city of Carthage, the enslavement of it's citizens, and the creation of
the Roman province of Africa. The first Punic War gave the Roman Republic
undisputed control of Corsica and Sicily, and of the western Mediterranean
sea lanes. The second Punic War resulted in Carthage's loss of Spain all
its island outposts, and its entire navy. The third Punic War finished
Carthage and established Rome as the military, political, and economic
power in the western Mediterranean and north Africa.
From 146 to 30 BCE, Rome gradually overtook the northern African
coastal lands. The small portion of Tunisia that Rome took with the distruction
of Carthage was largely held as an after-thought, while recognizing a series
of client kingdoms that Rome largely left to their own devices. Finally,
alliances with the Pompeian side of the Roman Civil Wars which destroyed
the Roman Republic (and left the Roman Empire in its place) brought Rome's
final conquest of northern Africa. The last to fall was Egypt in 30 BCE
when the Octavian (Roman Emperor Augustus) defeated Marc Antony and Cleopatra
VII in the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE and opened the door to the conquest
of Ptolomaic Egypt.
to Go - Carthage http://www.tourismtunisia.com/togo/carthage/carthage.html
Lepcis Magna - The Roman
Empire in Africa http://www.alnpete.co.uk/lepcis/
Southern & Southwest Africa
Iron work seems to first appear as early as the first century CE,
aparantly resulting from diffusion of Bantu speaking people who migrated
from what is now Nigeria and Cameroun into Southern Africa. Their skill
in metal working seems to have been learned from trade with Kush and achieved
a high order of craftsmanship.
The Khoisan People are an ancient people already settled in the area
as hunter-gatherer societies. Khoisan people consist of two groups, the
Khoi-Khoi and the San. They are thought to be the oldest of Modern
human groups, and there is evidence that they occupied the entire continent
at one time in the distant past. More information about
the Khiosan peoples is surfacing on a continual basis through archaeological
and anthropoligical research. See also The
Khoi-Khoi & San Peoples By Brian e Ebden.
The earliest settlements at Great Zimbabwe date from the fourth century.
Agriculturally favorable land and rich mineral deposits, along with the
ability of the migratory people to mine, smelt, and work metals like iron,
tin and gold, gave these new settlers a strong foothold resulting in the
kingdoms of Great Zimbabwe and Mutapa and wide dispersion and intermarriage
northern immigrant people with the Khoisan throughout the southern region
in Africa - The Mwenemutapa http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/CIVAFRCA/MWEN.HTM
- RIDDLE OF GREAT ZIMBABWE http://www...he.net/~archaeol/9807/abstracts/africa.html
The Ruins of Great Zimbabwe http://www.tmeg.com/artifacts/zimbabwe/zimbabwe.htm
NOVA - Mystery of Great Zimbabwe http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/zimbabwe.html
Hill Complex, Great Zimbabwe National Monument http://www.cultures.com/features/Africa/zimbabwe/zimbabwe.html
Pre-Colonial Africa: Her Civilisations and Foreign Contacts
BJohannesburg : Southern Book Publishers, c1989
ISBN 1868122425 (pbk.)
The Atlas of Africa
Regine Van Chi-Bonnardel
New York, The Free Press 
Kush, the Jewel of Nubia: Reconnecting the Root System of African
Miriam Ma'at-Ka-Re Monges
Trenton, NJ : Africa World Press, c1997
Atlas of African History
New York : Facts on File, c1980
General History of Africa /
UNESCO International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a
General History of Africa
London : Heinemann ; Berkeley : University of California Press, 1981-
ISBN's 0520039122(v.1), 520039130(v.2), 0520039149(v.3), 0520039157(v.4), 0520039165(v.5), 0520039173(v.6), 0520039181(v.7), 0520039203(v.8),