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Prehistoric Humans in Africa

Prehistoric Humans In Africa

The origins of most of these African people is sketchy and the subject of much debate as the fossil record and archaeological evidence is only beginning to emerge. Therefore, based upon material found thus far, the following hypothesis may be made:

Evidence, so far obtained from the paleontological record indicates that Africa is the Mother Continent to all of humanity. The earliest remains, thus far un-earthed are those of Australopithecus found at Taung in the Transvaal, and in East Africa at Olduvai Gorge, Omo Valley, and Koobi Fora. The oldest Australopithecus remains are over four million years old.  While these remains exhibit a cranial capacity of 310 to 530 cm3, they also show a creature that walks upright without the use of their hands, hands which have a grasping capacity for firmly holding objects wrapped in the fingers and an opposable thumb.  This gives this early pre-human abilities that will help it to develop not only sophisticated tool making skills, but will also encourage greater brain development to meet such challenges. Fifty thousand years ago, the landscape was dominated by Neanderthaloid types diversified into three basic groupings: Northern Neanderthals (who settled Northern Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe), Kanjeran (represented by fossil remains found at Kanjera), and Rhodesoid (who's fossils were found at Kabwe in Zambia). This diversification is indicative of the adaptability of the species to the variety offered by the African landscape.

As Modern Humans moved onto the landscape, three major groups developed along similar levels of diversification until about nine thousand years ago when Africa was populated by Afro-Mediterraneans (in the north and the north eastern quadrant of Africa and south following the natural corridor created by the Nile river) who adapted into tall olive complexioned Mediterranean peoples, Negroid (dominating the greater central humid tropical and equatorial regions) evolving into people with darker skin and varying in height from relatively short (BaMbuti, also called Pigmy) to quite tall (Massai) adapting as the environment required, and Large and Small Capoid (in the east and south of Africa). The Large Capoid appear to have phased out as evolution seems to have favored the Small Capoid who evolved into the Khoisan People.

Humans spread out from Olduvai to populate the rest of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and finally the Americas. In essence, Africa is the home of all human diversity. Every where else, they became immigrants, evolving as they traveled to adapt to new and changing environments. The desertification of the Sahara created a natural barrier that divided later populations of sub-Saharan Africa from those of the Mediterranean, Europe and the Middle East with a natural trade and access route provided by the Nile River up through Nubia and Egypt. The African equatorial and humid tropical climate of east central and central Africa offered areas of diversification from those of the southern arid, semi-tropical and tropical environments.

A central terminus where the three diverse groups come together developed in eastern Africa at about Lake Turkana, from about the confluence of the White and Blue Niles in the north to Lake Victoria in the south. This area becomes of great importance later in history as routes of cultural dispersion and trade develop.


Bibliography

Pre-Colonial Africa: Her Civilisations and Foreign Contacts
F.J. Nöthling
BJohannesburg : Southern Book Publishers, c1989
ISBN 1868122425 (pbk.)

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),

Atlas of African History
Colin McEvedy
New York : Facts on File, c1980
ISBN 0871964805

Historical Atlas of Africa
J.F. Ade Ajayi & Michael Crowder, Gen. Eds.
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1985
ISBN 0521253535


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