World history the World, world history World, a world history World history World, a world history the World, world history World history

ru by ua de en fr es

Cultures of Africa

Africa was the native land of many original cultures and the powerful states. But in due course external forces - in the beginning Arabs, later Europeans - began to have on it more and more destructive influence.

Possibly, Africa was a mankind cradle. In gorge Oldovaj (Tanzania) bones of our far ancestors and an instrument of labour which age experts define more than in two million years are found.

the Insuperable barrier

Beginning approximately from 8000 BC, people of the Stone Age occupied all extensive territory then still the green and fertile North Africa. Numerous samples of petroglyphic painting testify to it. However between 4000 and 2000 BC the climate has changed, the earth has dried up and there was a desert Sahara. Since then to new ideas and technologies centuries were required to overcome this serious barrier that has considerably slowed down development of Africa to the south of Sahara. In the meantime the North Africa became a part of the Mediterranean culture, in the beginning having generated Egypt, and later having joined in antique (Ancient Greek and Roman) a civilisation and, at last, the Islamic world.

The Life in other regions of Africa was defined mainly geographical and the environmental conditions complicating dialogue with an external world and strengthening destructive effect of illnesses. Among geographical factors it is necessary to name extensive deserts and jungle, and also high plateaus from which the rivers fell prompt falls that prevented to use these natural means of communication for resettlement and trade. Nevertheless, long before our era on territory of Africa to the south from Sahara the agriculture, and somewhere since II century BC from the northeast - and technology of processing of metals has got. The way of this knowledge on the south was extremely slow, and still to 1200 d.C. pygmies and bushmeny remained the unique Africans living in the Stone Age. However agriculture everywhere was at the extremely primitive level, and the wheel and a plough in primordially African cultures practically were absent.

the Binding way

The Valley of Nile was the main way of the message between the north and the south, therefore it is no wonder that the first considerable not Mediterranean African culture has arisen to the south from Egypt, in the country the Large sum, in territory of modern Sudan. By 1000 BC the Large sum was issued as an independent kingdom with capital in Napate. In the end of VIII century BC this state was already enough powerful to win Egypt and to base there the dynasty of Pharaohs. However in 80th of VII century BC kushitov assyrians have expelled. This collision had also positive sides - possibly, kushity have learnt a secret of fusion of metals from assyrians. This knowledge has got great value in the next century when Meroe rich with ore located in 500 km to the south became state capital. Thanking iron and gold the Large sum has grown rich, the difficult and refined culture began to develop. On it, undoubtedly, Egypt has influenced - us have reached kushitskie hieroglyphic inscriptions and pyramids.

Cultures of Africa the Large sum has existed long enough, but about 300 has been d.C. destroyed by the new state which has arisen in Northeast Africa - Aksumom, or Ethiopia. Ethiopia has accepted Christianity in IV century, but in three centuries has been cut off from other Christian world by the Moslems-Arabs who have subdued all North Africa.

Throughout centuries Ethiopia was the unique Christian state in Africa. Medieval Europeans knew about it only from legends. Unlike other, especially not Islamic African cultures, Ethiopia was the country with high literacy. In the isolated position she could create the unique and developed Christian civilisation. The monarchs, correcting it up to 1974, beginning the sort from tsar Solomona and the tsarina Savsky carried a title "ыхт Ђѕфхш".

Commercial relations

Since I century d.C. when in the North Africa there were camels, Sahara has ceased to be an insuperable barrier. Through it caravan tracks on which in the Mediterranean have been laid and further to Europe carried gold, an ivory morocco ("ьрЁюъърэёъѕ¦") a skin, and back - fabrics and luxury goods.

Cultures of Africa Some cities, for example, Timbuk on southern border of Sahara, prospered thanks to this trade, and on river banks Nigers (the Western Sudan) and lakes Chads there were some empires. Ghana, Mali, Songai also we Will sink-Born co-existed or replaced each other till the end of XVI while war from Morocco has not broken this teritoriju into small kingdoms conflicting among themselves. Many modern African countries which have received independence only in 1960 or later took to themselves names from history of Africa - Ghana, Mali, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, therefore it is impossible to confuse the old and new states identical names which often are on a card in different places.

About 1000 d.C. together with Arabian dealers Sahara was crossed also by Islam. Governors of great African empires the Western Sudan have been turned into new belief, however the majority their citizens remained true to old gods and cults., and soon the rich Islamic culture began to develop in Timbuktu, a name of which for Europeans associated with the most remote corners of light, there was a university which has become famous in all Islamic world. The most part of knowledge of this region we have gathered from notes of the Arabian travellers, for example, the historian of XIV century Ibn Battuty.

Arabs have brought Islam also to East Africa where coast tribes already played a role of intermediaries on the trading ways stretched from depths of continent to Asia. Arabs have lodged at coast about 800 and have soon mixed up with the population speaking on a bow. As a result there was a language suahili.

East coast

With development of the Portuguese trade in Indian ocean east coast of Africa was enriched thanks to gold export. The arisen new cities, Zanzibar, Mombasa and Kilva, prospered. Arabian single-masted dau repeatedly crossed ocean and reached India long before the Portuguese seafarer Vasco da Gama. It hardly would manage to reach in 1498 Calcutta if it was directed there by skilled pilots of the East African coast. However kind relations lasted not for long - in some years Portugueses have plundered Mombasa and other Arabian cities, which steels the first Portuguese colonial outposts under the general name Mozambique.

Cultures of Africa the gold Most part got at coast from an extensive kingdom in the heart of the continent which center, obviously, the granite palace complex served in Great Zimbabwe. The majority of constructions in Africa of the last centuries, even palaces, have been made of fragile materials (clay, a brick and a reed), therefore impressive constructions of Zimbabwe are unique for the south of Africa - their walls and a tower are erected by way of a dry masonry at which separate blocks are accurately and reliably adjusted to each other without a binding material.

Who has constructed Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe has always been surrounded by secret because has not remained any written certificates on its history. Early European settlers have been so assured of the superiority over Africans that simply could not believe in ability black to build such large constructions, and therefore attributed to their Phoenicians and the tsarina Savsky. The state Zimbabwe has been created by the people shona, probably, in the beginning of VII century BC and Building in capital - Great Zimbabwe has existed till XIX century - has begun about 1200 and proceeded till XVI century when the city has been left for the unknown reasons. With arrival of the Portuguese seamen for the Western Africa and all continent the new era has begun.

In territory of modern Nigeria, near to coast, Portugueses have found out the kingdom the Benin which has existed up to the British colonisation in 1897 In Benin and its close neighbour of Ife the masterpieces of the sculpture which has won a recognition all over the world have been created. A sculpture - most surprising of arts of Africa. More often we meet the stylised figures and the masks which have been cut out from a tree for the cult purposes. The sculpture of Benin, on the contrary, is marvellously realistic. Many products have been created for a palace from technically more difficult material - bronze.

The African tribes had no neither technical knowledge, nor system of collective safety which gives participation in large political associations. Isolated childbirth and clans became an easy mark rabotorgovtsev. Arabs made centuries attacks on the African tribes, but Europeans operated with much bigger scope. Since XVII century they have taken out to America of ten millions Africans.

Stronger African states of Africa too did not disdain this shameful business. To the beginning of XVIII century the kingdom Ashanti has so grown rich on trade in slaves and gold that, boasting of the feats, soldiers hung out every year gold posthumous masks of the killed enemies on a sacred gold throne. Having created effective controls in capital Kumasi and a network of communications on all country (orders messengers carried), the kingdom began to dominate in region, and was strong enough to constrain expansion of well armed Europeans up to the XIX-th century end. Contacts to Europeans have made interbreeding wars by more destructive. Struggling for the influence spheres, many European countries tried to sell to the African governors the weapon. By estimations, only from Birmingham (England) to Africa in the middle of XVIII century 100.000 muskets have arrived. As a result of wars continued to arise (and all new and new states disappeared) - while the European intervention did not become direct and barefaced.


Last grand conquerors were zulusy in Southern Africa. Their tribes have united in the beginning of XIX century under Dingisvajo legendary Shaka (CHaka) was which right hand. The ingenious commander, Shaka has invented fight tactics thanks to which the army zulusov became invincible. After death of Dingivajo Shaka became the king zulusov and waged continuous wars with other tribes. By 1820 Shaka of rules in territory more than 10 000 sq. miles. The absolute power has made its seminormal despot on which whim could be executed not only captured enemies, but also its own military leaders. Many of them ran in the next earths to save the life. In 1828 bloody board Shaki has ended - it was y6ит the stepbrother Dingaanom. In and next decades zulusy were left terrible military force of what had to be convinced British 1879. During fierce battles the European technical superiority, and eventually the Zulu army however has affected has been broken.

Struggle for Africa

In 1800 Europeans supervised rather small territory of Africa, basically at coast. Bек XIX became a century of brave researchers and Christian missionaries, but behind them, already since 1809 g, politicians and military men have followed. In results "сш=т№ for +¶Ёшъѕ" all kontinet has appeared in direct kolonialno submission or under "яЁю=хъ=юЁр=ют the European powers.