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A Chronology of African History – Prehistoric Times, Early Migrations, Ancient Kingdoms
It is the purpose of this article to provide the general reader with a comprehensive picture of world’s greatest civilization originating in Africa, a continent leading modern scholars today refer to it as the ‘the cradle of civilization’. This chronology seeks to address sophisticated and intelligent readers who had never previously read anything serious about Africa, from the earliest times to the most recent. Most black people have lost their confidence, their true identity, because their history has been neglected, falsified and sometimes concealed. Diana Crawford Carson has been instrumental in the compilation of the chronology as she spent many hours synchronizing facts from many sources and verifying the language usage. Note: the century headings generally refer to the first date mentioned. Example: an entry covering the 14th to the 18th century will be found under ’14th Century, 1300s’. The numbers in the left hand column are arbitrary, to help those using the indexes.
No. – Date – Text
1. 5 to 2.5 million Fossils, rocks, ancient skeletal remains have been uncovered in the Rift Valley and surrounding areas. Evidence points to a common human ancestry originating in Africa from the emergence of a humanlike species in eastern Africa some 5 million years ago. From Hadar, Ethiopia, the 3.18 million year old remains of almost-human ‘Lucy’ were unearthed in 1974. Recent discoveries (in 2000 AD) in the Baringo district of Kenya reveal important remains dating from before five million BCE. This is earlier than the ‘aus Orrorin Tugenensis’, thought to be a hominid-primate ancestor of humans tralopithecines; it is even earlier than ‘Lucy’.
2. 200,000 By this time, there were many almost-human beings throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa; some of them had discovered fire, and its use. Homo Sapiens, the first true human, had developed by this time, and were living in groups/communities of hunter-gatherers. There is archaeological evidence also of their making and using primitive tools, crafted of flint.
3. These ‘communities’ became nomadic groups, who eventually became the nomadic people, the San. The San moved throughout the African continent.
4. Developing from being hunter/gatherers, there is evidence that Africa was probably the gene-centre for early agriculture. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of such as (cultivated) cotton, sorghum, watermelon, kola nuts and coffee. This suggests that Africa saw the beginnings of the actual cultivation of these and other types of food for human consumption, at an extremely early time.
5. 25,000 – 10,000 Rock paintings were discovered throughout much of Africa, from the far north to the southern regions.
6. 6000-4000 By this time, ‘River People’ were living in the areas of the major rivers, the Nile, Niger, and Congo Rivers.
7. In Zaire, from about the same period, there is evidence that the ‘Isonghee’, in the area of Zaire, the future Republic of Congo, invented an abacus, for use in mathematical calculations.
8. Remains of huge, so-called ‘cyclopian’, stone tombs have been found in central Africa. The stones, which might be called ‘rising stones’ elsewhere, are enormous, making one think of the fictional ‘cyclops giants’ of Greek mythology. At least one stone has a groove on top, which causes ‘tears’ to drip down the ‘face’ of the stone.
9. South of the Sahara Desert, the development of agriculture was advanced enough to support a burgeoning population. As the people of this area learned to domesticate various animals, as well as improving their agricultural skills, the San were forced to migrate to other areas, where life for them was somewhat more arduous.
10. 4000 to 1000 In the Nile valley, settlements became more stable. Black Kingdoms arose and prospered in the area of the Nile River valley. These included Nubia, also called ‘Kash’/’Kush’. Their capitals were at Napata, and Meroe. Napata was a religious capital in Ethiopia, and Meroe became an administrative capital in the same country.
11. 2700 – 1087 This was the period of three dynasties/kingdoms in the upper Nile region of Egypt. These kingdoms were the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom, with many differences between them. The Old Kingdom, following the ‘Archaic Period, and known also as the First Dynasty, was the period from 2700-2200 BC. During this dynasty, the sphinx and the Great Pyramid at Giza were built.The Middle Kingdom began in 2100 BC, lasting until 1800 BC. During this period of roughly 300 years, the Egyptians devised a new form of government, greatly altering the power of the pharaoh, who no longer had absolute power. During the New Kingdom, 1570-1080 BC, the Egyptians absorbed many other countries, greatly increasing their power. However, towards the end of this Kingdom/dynasty, their power diminished, threatened by many peoples including the Hittites, and Egypt was finally taken over (sequentially) by Ethiopia and Assyria, the latter aided by Greek mercenaries.
12. 2686 – 2182 During the period of the Old Kingdom, the first pyramid (‘the first pyramid of Djoser’) was built at Saqqara.
13. 2500 By this time, in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and eastward as far as northeastern Indian and northern China, there were well established centres of commerce and growing populations.
14. Also at about the same time, the now-famous but little understood statue of the Sphinx was created. It was carved from a single huge block of limestone. It is thought that this huge stone was found in the quarry, whence had come the stone used in building the pyramids. It is reputed to have been carved by (or for?) the Pharaoh Khafre. Khafre’s pyramid lies high above and just behind the Sphinx. Some scholars posit that the Sphinx represents the pharaoh’s face.
15. 2300-2100 A very early record, the ‘Heliopolis Creation Narrative’ of the Kemetic priests of On, and the Memphite Declaration of the Deities, was first written on papyrus, later to be incised on stone (see 19). These words are perhaps the earliest written accounts of Creation.
16. ca 1000-800 The Bantu (‘Bantu’ means ‘the people’) of whom there were some sixty million, had already begun migrating south into southern Africa, from their settlements in west Africa. This migration, which continued for over 2,000 years, was one of the largest in human history. The growing population could have been a major factor forcing the move. The Bantus might have sought more land for their agricultural developments, which included formerly unfamiliar foods, such as the banana (native to southern Asia). The Bantu, though a vast peoples who later developed impressive kingdoms in both western and central regions of Africa, initially governed themselves through relatively small, local structures.
17. The Bantu-speakers quite early separated into two groups, with the eastern Bantu-speakers continuing the migration through what became present-day Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Most of this group finally settled in the future South Africa. The western group of the Bantu migrated through the future Angola, Namibia and the northwestern part of Botswana. The Bantu left many traces, one of the foremost being their language. Of the languages based on the Bantu, the most dominant is the Arab-touched Swahili (or Kiswahili, meaning the language of the Swahili/ coastal people). Swahili was spoken along the coast of east Africa and beyond. Its first great importance was its use in trading, whence came the influence of Arabic. Today there are some fifty million Kiswahili speakers, with a variety of mutually-understood dialects.
18. Many ethnic groups count the Bantu as ancestors. Among these are the Shona, Xhosa, Kikuyu, and Zulu, descended from the eastern Bantus, and the Herero and Tonga peoples, from the western Bantus.
19. 710 BCE This is the presumed date of the carving of the ‘Heliopolis Creation Narrative’ of the Kemetic priests of On, and the Memphite Declaration of the Deities. Originally written on papyrus, these words are thought to be the earliest written accounts of Creation.
20. 750-600 People of Kush/Nubia by this time ruled Egypt; their capital was Meroe. Their competence in metal work and science led to strong and increasingly widening influence in sub- Sahara Africa. The Kingdom of Nubia lasted more than nine hundred years.
BCE > CE the point of the meeting of the old era (Before the Common/Christian Era) and the new era (the Common Era)
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