ANT 102 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Ancient Carthage, Ishango Bone, Egyptian Pyramids
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Supervised by : Professor . Ahmed Radi
Edited by : Issam Ouchen
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The history of Africa begins with the emergence of Homo
sapiens in East Africa, and continues into the present as a
patchwork of diverse and politically developing nation states.
The recorded history of early civilization arose in Egypt, and
later in Nubia, the Sahel, the Maghreb and the Horn of Africa.
During the Middle Ages, Islam spread through the regions.
Crossing the Maghreb and the Sahel, a major center of Muslim
culture was Timbuktu. Some notable pre-colonial states and
societies in Africa include the Nok culture, Mali Empire, Ashanti
Empire, Kingdom of Mapungubwe, Kingdom of Sine, Kingdom
of Saloum, Kingdom of Baol, Kingdom of Zimbabwe, Kingdom
of Kongo, Ancient Carthage, Numidia, Mauretania, the
Aksumite Empire, the Ajuran Sultanate and the Adal Sultanate.
From the late 15th century, Europeans and Arabs captured
Africans from West, Central and Southeast Africa and
kidnapped them overseas in the African slave trade.
European colonization of Africa developed rapidly in the
Scramble for Africa of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It
is widely believed that Africa had up to 10,000 different states
and autonomous groups with distinct languages and customs
before it was colonized. Following struggles for
independence in many parts of the continent, as well as a
weakened Europe after the Second World War, decolonization
Africa's history has been challenging for researchers in the
field of African studies because of the scarcity of written
sources in large parts of the continent. Scholarly techniques
such as the recording of oral history, historical linguistics,
archaeology and genetics have been crucial.
The first known hominids evolved in Africa. According
to paleontology, the early hominids' skull anatomy was similar
to that of the gorilla and chimpanzee, great apes that also
evolved in Africa, but the hominids had adopted
a bipedal locomotion and freed their hands. This gave them a
crucial advantage, enabling them to live in both forested areas
and on the open savanna at a time when Africa was drying up
and the savanna was encroaching on forested areas. This
occurred 10 to 5 million years ago.
By 3 million years ago, several australopithecine hominid
species had developed
throughout southern, eastern and central Africa. They were
tool users, and makers of tools. They scavenged for meat and
By approximately 2.3 million years ago, primitive stone tools
were first used to scavenge kills made by other predators and
to harvest carrion and marrow from their bones. In
hunting, Homo habilis was probably not capable of competing
with large predators and was still more prey than hunter. H.
habilis probably did steal eggs from nests and may have been
able to catch small game and weakened larger prey (cubs and
older animals). The tools were classed as Oldowan.
Around 1.8 million years ago, Homo ergaster first appeared in
the fossil record in Africa. From Homo ergaster, Homo
erectus evolved 1.5 million years ago. Some of the earlier
representatives of this species were still fairly small-brained
and used primitive stone tools, much like H. habilis. The brain
later grew in size, and H. erectus eventually developed a more
complex stone tool technology called the Acheulean. Possibly
the first hunters, H. erectus mastered the art of making fire and
was the first hominid to leave Africa, colonizing most of the Old
World and perhaps later giving rise to Homo floresiensis.
Although some recent writers suggest that Homo
georgicus was the first and most primitive hominid ever to live
outside Africa, many scientists consider H. georgicus to be an
early and primitive member of the H. erectus species.