African Civilizations 1500 BC – AD 700

African Civilizations
1500 BC – AD 700
Chapter 8
World Studies Summer School
Africa: Diverse Geography
Coastal Plains
Snow capped Mountain Peaks
Desserts and Constant Drought
Rain Forrests w/200+ inches of rain per year
Many unique cultures and societies
4600 Miles East to West
5000 Miles North to South
Adapting to the Environment
• Nomadic Lifestyles
– Hunter-Gatherers
• Men Hunt/Woman Gather
– Movement based on where the food is
– Herders
• Kept cattle, sheep, goats
• Drove their animals where they could eat and find
• Agriculture begins around 6000 BC
– Allows for groups to settle and build first
Early Societies – South Sahara
• Societies share common element of Family.
– Extended families were part of one large family or
• Religion: some form of god or creator
– Animism: religion where spirits play role of
regulating life. Spirits are present in animals plants
and other natural elements. Take the forms of
souls of their ancestors.
• History
– Few written languages. Traditions passed down
orally by Griots or storytellers.
Early West African Cultures
• West Afican Cultures jumped right into Iron Age.
• The Nok
– Lived in Nigeria between 500 BC and AD 200
– First to Smelt Iron
– Vast overland trade routes
• Djenne-Djeno
Oldest African City South of the Sahara
Over 50,000 residents at its height
Reed round huts plastered w/ mud
Later enclosed houses made of mud brick
Fished Niger river, herded cattle, and raised rice
The Kingdom of Aksum AD 300 – AD 700
• Located on the Red Sea in present day
Ethiopia and Eritrea.
• Traded heavily with Arabs, Persians, and
• Massive trade and seaport at Adulis on Red
• Very diverse cultural heritage due to trade and
mixing with many different cultures.
• Great Leader Ezana: Expands Empire and
Converts to Christianity
Aksum Continued
• One of the first large Empires to convert to
– Spread fast through society
– Ethiopia still home to millions of Christians today
• Innovations
– First State south of Sahara to mint own coins
– Developed own written language
– Terrace Farming
– Canals and channels for irrigation
– Dams to store water
Aksum’s Decline
• Islamic invaders destroyed Adulis in 710.
• Without port, they became isolated.
• Move capital further into Ethiopia to avoid
spread of Islam and become more isolated
and decline as power.
• Although they reached great heights and
achievements, Aksum never really spread out
of their relatively small geographic area.
• Complete Questions:
–p. 219 # 1-7
–p. 229 # 1-7
African Societies 800-1500
Summer School – 2011
Chapter 15
North and Central African Societies
• The Efe (AY-Fay)
– Hunting and Gathering Society living in the forests
of present day Congo.
– Small groups of 10-100 people
– Social Structure based on Lineage
– Society not governed by formal laws
North and Central African Societies
• The Igbo
– Southern Nigeria in 9th Century.
– Also Hunter Gatherers
– Ruled by Lineage
– Patrilineal vs. Matrilineal
– Age-Set System
North and Central African Societies
• Muslim States
– Northern African Mediterranean coast (Maghrib)
– Spreads between 670-1000
– Ruled by Islamic Law
– Almoravid and Almohad Empires
– Unite Northern Africa 11th and 12th centuries
West African Civilizations
• Empire of Ghana
– Area grew rich by 700s with increased trade
across Sahara due to use of Camels.
– Gold and Salt most important trade items
– Until 1350, 2/3 of worlds gold came from West
– West Africa needed Salt.
– Due to trade, slowly influenced by Islam
– Conquered by Almoravids 1076
West African Civilizations
• Empire of Mali
– Emerges around 1235
– Built on Gold
• Sundiata
First great leader
Takes over old Ghana kingdom
Expands East
“The world knows no other master but Sundiata”
• Goes Muslim
• Declines in 1400s
West African Civilizations
• Empire of Songhai
– Break away from Mali and move further east.
– 2 great Muslim Rulers
• Sunni Ali
• Askia Muhammad
– Both were powerful military leaders
– Both could not expand further due to the lack of modern
– 1591 Moroccans defeat Songhai warriors ending
nearly 1000 years of powerful west African
Southern Empires
• Great Zimbabwe - first great city
– Shona People settle around 1000
– Fertile soil
– Along two major trade routes leading to sea
– Gold and Ivory trade were greatest
– 1450 City abandoned
– No one knows why!
• Complete Questions:
–p.412 #1-7
–p.419 #1-5
–p.427 #1-5
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