|Evidence shows that Mankind crossed on the Southern Dip from Africa|
about 125,000 years ago
Scientists, Archaeologists and historical evidence believe and show that mankind evolved in Africa about 2 million years ago. However, there is a lot of assumption from the few archaeological finds.
This is a period from the beginning of humans in Africa to the end of the recent Ice Age which was about 10,000 years ago.
It is assumed that by 8000 BC a few million people were living in small communities across the continent. A glimpse into prehistoric Africa gave the knowledge that they used stone and bone tools when hunting animals and gathering plants. It did not leave us with a better picture how these people really lived.
There never was an Ice Age in Africa like on the rest of the world. It still had an influence on the climate.
The Sahara had rainfall before it was barren. The rainfall created lakes, forest and grasses. This encouraged elephants, lions and other animals to move there. Prehistoric rock paintings and carvings were found showing evidence of these animals existed there. The earliest rock paintings show only animals and hunting scenes. Later pictures, around 6000 BC, show herding agriculture in the region.
These new inhabitants still had their hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
However, as the lakes and rivers started forming, their way of life also started to change. They started to fish and developed fish-hooks as well as harpoons. Since their food came from more or less around the same place they started to build huts.
Around 8000 years ago inhabitants in the Sahara and Nile Valley started to domesticate wild animals. They succeeded with cows and soon went with their herd from place to place. At the same time of this development agriculture began. They cultivated crops and were influenced by Mesopotamia, today's Iraq.
It spread along the river Nile from Egypt to Ethiopia. In this region there was mainly barley and wheat. It is assumed that they learned farming from the Egyptians.
They grew native African crops like millet, sorghum and rice. In the south and west they grew cereals, yams, bananas and oil palm fruits.
SAHARA RETURNS TO DESERT
Around 3500 BC the dessert returned to Sahara and the people moved south and east.
By 2000 BC, it appears, they were herders and went from pasture to pasture in the region of modern Kenya.
However, it took another 3000 years till they reached the far south of Africa. The slow progress was due to thick woodlands in the south. Another cause was the tsetse fly in this area which causes a serious cattle disease called nagana.
Even agriculture was not developed there till about 1500 years ago.
Some of the ancient tribes moved north when the Sahara turned into a desert. Tribes headed as far as the Mediterranean coast. Other tribes moved from oases to oases in the Sahara. Most of these people spoke Berber and eventually were known as Berbers.
By around 1000 BC a regular trading route was established through the Sahara. They carried goods from the north and west of the continent. At first they used to use horse-drawn chariots to transport their goods. However, as the desert climate became more established camels from Arabia were used.
From around 4000 BC a great civilization developed in the north-east, the ancient Egyptians. All along the mighty river Nile the Egyptians established themselves and goods were transported all the way to Nubia.
A Kingdom of Kush established itself in about 2000 BC but the Egyptians conquered those 500 years later.
In 759 BC, the King Kashta defeated the Egyptians and for another 100 years Kushite pharaohs ruled Egypt. The next two kings Piankhy and Shabaka pushed further north and their powerful kingdom reached the Mediterranean coast.
A great change came when the Assyrian Armies marched into Egypt from the Middle East. They conquered several regions of the Kushites.
The Kushites moved back to the south to their original homeland. The capital was Napata. In the 5th century BC they even moved further south to the new capital Meroe. From there they established a flourishing culture with farming and iron-working. They established trade routes to Africa, Middle East India and China. Their culture had its peak around 300 BC but went into decline in 200 AD.
In 320 AD Kush was conquered by Axum, a Christian trading kingdom whose homeland was Ethiopia.
Over the next hundreds of years the people used stones, bones and wood to make their tools. However, around 4000 BC, the Egyptians started to use the first metal which was copper. After another 1000 years they discovered to melt in tin with the copper and produced bronze. Maybe some West Africans also used copper but most of the other tribes went from the Stone Age to the Iron Age.
The Hittites of Anatolia - today's Turkey - and Syrians discovered how to melt iron in 1500 BC.
However, this did not spread across to North Africa till several hundreds years later. Eventually the knowledge spread down the Nile to Egypt and then to Meroe.
The other route came through the Sahara to the west and it came there by 5th century BC.
The first culture which mastered iron-works was the Nok. They made not only iron tools but sculptured heads made form terracotta. It was a successful culture till including the early AD.
The Bantu-speaking tribes lived in West Africa. They made iron tools from the 5th century BC till 5th AD. To begin with they were farmers and their agricultural skills spread at the same time. These iron tools enabled them to cut through impenetrable forests. Therefore, the people in the south were able to learn a different life style. Until such time they were hunters/gatherers.
By 1000 AD across whole Africa the people were making tools from melted iron and farming. There were also small villages and town being built and complex societies emerged.
Only in the south-west the tribes were still hunting and gathering.
In the north, through the Arab invasions in the 7th century AD the trans-Sahara trade was established and constantly increasing.
After that the great African empires of the Middle Ages emerged.