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Pre-Colonial Africa

During this era Africa was influenced by two major movements: the expansion and consolidation of Islam and the dispersion of the Bantu peoples which led to the the development of many kingdoms and empires. Investigate the impact, interaction, and conflict which arose and the development of trade and exchange -- both of commodities and culture.
  1. Ancient Egypt (43)

Trade across the Sahara
Between the 11th and 15th centuries West Africa was a major trading region, exporting goods to Europe, Arabia, India, and China across the Sahara Desert.

The Nilo-Saharan Language Group in Africa
A look at the Nilo-Saharan Language group, one of the four major language groups in Africa as identified by anthropologists and linguistic historians.

Nok Culture
Considered the oldest recognisable pre-colonial society in sub-Saharan Africa, the Nok Culture is exemplified by its magnificent terracotta sculptures and the development of iron working. Find out more about this ancient African civilization.

Nok Terracottas
A distinctive style of terracotta sculpture associated with the ancient African Nok Culture. These terracotta sculptures date from 500 BCE to 200 CE, representing the earliest example of sub-Saharan tribal art.

Timbuktu, the El Dorado of Africa
Timbuktu is widely used to describe a place extremely far away and regarded by many as a myth. In reality it's a city in Mali, West Africa, of such great historical importance that in 1988 it was designated a World Heritage Site.

The Ifat Sultanate
The Ifat Sultanate was a 13th to 15th century mediaeval Islamic state in what is now Ethiopia, Djibouti, and northern Somalia.

The Adal Sultanate
The Adal Sultanate was a 10th to 16th century mediaeval Islamic state in what is now Djibouti and Somalia. The capital of Adal was Harar, and there were several significant trading ports, such as Zeila, on the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.

Askum, Ethiopia
A short article by About.com's archaeology guide on Askum, a powerful kingdom in Ethiopia which rose to prominence in the first century CE.

Kilwa Kisiwani - Medieval Trade Center of Africa
On a small island off the coast of the modern country of Tanzania, eastern Africa, lies the site of Kilwa Kisiwani, also called Kilwa, the most important of about thirty-five trading sites on the Indian Ocean during the 11th through 16th centuries AD.

Kingdom of Mali
Early Mali was governed by a council of caste-leaders, who elected a mansa who ruled. The most famous of these was Mansa Musa who went on a lavish pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324.

Ancient Africa
A comprehensive timeline covering Ancient Africa from the 5 million BCE to 500 BCE. An excellent start for academic study as it contains many links to peripheral material.

Sonni Ali
West African monarch who ruled Songhai from 1464 to 1492, expanding a small kingdom along the Niger River into one of medieval Africa's greatest empires.

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