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Beyond the savannahs are the deserts. These vegetations played a major role for Africans and how they make a living. Africa’s geographic features also influenced the cultural developments. The cataracts, or waterfalls, blocked easy movement. , but the Great Rift Valley served as an interior passageway. The Mediterranean and Red seas provided trade routes to places in southwest Asia and present-day Europe.
Resources Spur Trade Africa had a lot of minerals. Salt, gold, iron, and copper especially were valuable, so many continents wanted to trade with Africa.
Transportation was generally hard ecause of the vast deserts, but there was the introduction of the camel, which were called the “ships of the desert”. Camel caravans created new trade networks, because they could carry heavy loads and go without water. The Sahara Dries Out Neolithic villages started to appear in the Sahara.
Back then, (about 5500 B. C. ) the Sahara was a well watered area covered with rich grasslands and savanna. In about 2500 B. C. , the climate change slowly dried the Sahara. Desertification destroyed thousands of acres of cropland and pastureland.
The desertification caused migration for people who were seeking new ways to maintain their life. The Bantu Migrations The migrations contributed to the diversity of Africa over thousands of years. The West African peoples spoke a variety of languages that came from one common language.
This common language is called Bantu, and this migrations is called the Bantu migrations. As they migrated to Southern Africa, the Bantu speakers spread their skills in farming, ironworking, and domesticating animals. The existing cultures merged with those of the Bantu speakers.
Nubia Rivals Egypt Trade led to contact between Nubia and Egypt, but also rivalry between who would control the trade in the region. By 1500 B. C. , Nubians were under the Egyptian’s control, and so the Nubians adapted many of the Egyptian’s traditions. They modeled palaces and pyramids based on the Egyptians and worshipped Egyptian gods. By 1100 B. C. , the power of the Egyptians were declining and Nubia gained independence. In about 730 B. C. , the Nubian king Piankhi conquered Egypt. However, in 670 B. C. , Nubia was invaded by the Assyrians from Southwest Asia.
The superior iron weapons of these invaders were unmatchable, so the Nubian armies were forced to retreat from Egypt and they returned to the South. Meroe Masters Trade and Iron By 500 B. C. , Assyrian invaders forced Nubian rulers to move their capital from Napata to Meroe. Meroe eventually dominated both the Nile’s north-south trade route and animal skins, perfumes, and enslaved people to the Mediterranean world and Southwest Asia. Meroe’s location was one of the main reasons why it was a successful center for trade. The region’s resources were also important. They were rich in iron ore.
They had large quantities of timber, which fueled the smelting furnaces. This produced the iron tools and weaponry needed to feed, control, and defend the kingdom. Splendor and Decline Even though Nubia absorbed a lot of things from Egypt, Nubia later followed its own course. After gaining independence from Egypt, Nubians worshipped their own gods, including Apedemak, a lion-headed warrior god. The artistic styles reflected a greater sense of freedom that the Egyptians. The Nubians also created their own system of writing, but it is still yet to be deciphered. After the reign of 0th King Natakamani and Queen Amanitere in the first century A.
D. , the golden age of Nubia dimmed, and finally was overwhelmed by King Ezana’s armies from the kingdom of Axum to its outh. Phoenicians Build Carthage As Nubia was thriving along the Nile, Carthage was rising as a great North African power. Founded by Phoenician traders as a port on the Mediterranean coast, Carthage came to dominate western Mediterranean trade. From 800 B. C. to 146 B. C. , it forged an empire that stretched from present-day Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco to southern Europe. Trade rivalries between Rome and Carthage eventually led to a series of conflicts called the Punic Wars.
At the end of the Third Punic War, the Romans literally burned Carthage to the ground. Rome Rules North Africa After defeating Carthage, Rome gained control of the narrow strip of North Africa between the Mediterranean coast and the Sahara. There, they built roads, dams, aqueducts, and cities. The Romans developed and utilized North Africa’s farmlands as a granary, a region that produces much grain, to feed the Roman empire. North Africa provided soldiers for the Roman army, including Septimius Severus who would later become an emperor of Rome. Under Roman rule, Christianity spread to the cities of North Africa. In fact, St.
Augustine, the most influential Christian thinker of the late Roman Empire, was born in present-day Algeria. From A. D. 395 to A. D. 430, Augustine was bishop of Hippo, a city located near the ruins of ancient Carthage. Islam Spreads Into Africa In the 690s, Muslim Arabs conquered and occupied the cities of North Africa. By the early 700s, the Berbers, a largely nomadic North African people, were conquered. Christianity was eventually replaced by Islam as the dominant religion of North Africa under Arab rule. Also, the Arabic replaced Latin as its language. Over time, Muslim traders from North Africa carried Islam to West Africa.
Trading centers like that of the city of Gao developed over time throughout Africa as rade extended beyond village borders. Some of the medieval cities became wealthy international commercial centers. Between 800 and 1600, several powerful kingdoms won control of these prosperous cities and their trade. Trade in Sahara Salt was a highly prized item because it was important to human health, but very rare. The earliest development of trade in the region was tied to agriculture. Surplus Leads to Trade As the Sahara dried out, some Neolithic people migrated southward into the savanna, an area of grasslands that was good for farming.
By A. D. 100, settled agricultural illages were expanding, especially along the Senegal and Niger rivers around Lake Chad. This expansion from farming villages to towns was due to the development of trade. Farming villages began to produce a surplus, more than they needed. They traded their surplus food for products from other villages. Gradually, a trade network linked the savanna to forest lands in the south and then funneled goods across the Sahara to civilizations along the Mediterranean and in Southwest Asia. From West Africa, caravans crossed the Sahara carrying leather goods, kola nuts, cotton cloth, and enslaved people.
From North Africa, Arab and Berber merchants brought silk, metal, beads, and horses. Trading Gold for Salt Two products, gold and salt, dominated the Sahara trade. Gold was widely available in the area of present-day Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. In exchange, West Africans traded for an equally important commodity, or valuable product, salt. The Sahara had an abundance of salt. As farming and trade prospered, cities developed on the northern edges of the savanna. Soon strong monarchs arose, gained control of the most profitable trade routes, and built powerful kingdoms.
Ghana: The Land of Gold The ancient kingdom of Ghana was located in the fertile, broad V’ made by the Niger and Senegal rivers in present-day Mali. From there, the king controlled gold-salt trade routes across West Africa. The two streams of trade met in the marketplaces of Ghana, where the king collected tolls on all goods entering or leaving his land. So great was the flow of gold that Arab writers called Ghana “the land of gold” Cities of Splendor The capital of Ghana was Kumbi Saleh, which was made up of two separate walled towns some six miles apart.
The first town was dominated by the royal palace, which as surrounded by a complex of domed buildings. Here, in a court noted for its wealth and splendor, the king of Ghana presided over elaborate ceremonies. To his people, he was a godlike figure who administered Justice and kept order. In the second town of Kumbi Saleh, prosperous Muslim merchants from north of the Sahara merchants helped make Kumbi Saleh a bustling center of trade. Influence of Islam Muslim merchants brought their Muslim faiths with them to the kingdom of Ghana.
The king hired them as counselors and officials, and gradually incorporated some of their military technology and ideas about government. Muslims also introduced their written language, coinage, and business methods. Although Islam spread slowly at first, in time, a few early dwellers adopted the religion. However, most of the Soninke people continued to follow their own traditional beliefs. About 1050, Almoravids, pious Muslims of North Africa, launched a campaign to take control of Ghana’s trade routes. They eventually overwhelmed Ghana, but were unable to maintain control over their extended empire for long.
In time, Ghana was swallowed up by a rising new power, the West African kingdom of Mali. The Rise of the Germanic Kingdoms The Germanic tribes that conquered parts of the Roman empire included the Goths, Vandals, Saxons, and Franks. Their culture was very different from that of the Romans. They were mostly farmers and herders? so they had no cities or written laws. Instead, they lived in small communities governed by unwritten customs. Kings were elected by tribal councils. Warriors swore loyalty to the king in exchange for weapons and a share in the plunder taken from conquered people.
Between 400 and 700, these Germanic tribes carved Western Europe into small kingdoms. The Franks Extend Their Power One of these kingdoms was that of the Franks. In 486, Clovis, king of the Franks, conquered the former Roman province of Gaul, which later became the kingdom of France. He ruled his new lands according to Frankish custom but preserved much of the Roman legacy. Clovis took an important step when he converted to Christianity, the religion of his subjects in Gaul. Not only did he earn their support, but he also gained a powerful ally in the pope, leader of the Christian Church of Rome.
A Muslim Empire Threatens Europe As the Franks and other Germanic peoples carved up Europe, a new power was merging across the Mediterranean. The religion of Islam began in Arabia in the 600s. From there, Muslims, or believers in Islam, created a new civilization and built a huge and expanding empire. Leaders of the Church and of Christian lands from Palestine to North Africa to present-day Spain. When a Muslim army crossed into France, Charles Martel rallied Frankish warriors. At the battle of Tours in 732, Christian warriors triumphed. To them, the victory was a sign that God was on their side.
Muslims advanced no farther into Western Europe, although they continued to ule most of what is now Spain. This nearby Muslim presence remained a source of anxiety to many European Christian leaders. In time, however, medieval Europeans would trade with Muslims, whose learning in many areas exceeded their own. In 768, the grandson of Charles Martel became king of the Franks. He briefly united Western Europe when he built an empire reaching across what is now France, Germany, and part of Italy. Also named Charles, he became known as Charlemagne, or Charles the Great.
Charlemagne spent much of his 46-year reign fighting Muslims n Spain, Saxtons in the north, Avars and Slavs in the east, and Lombards in Italy. His conquests reunited much of the old western Roman empire. A New Emperor of the Romans In 799, Pope Leo Ill asked Charlemagne for help against rebellious nobles in Rome. The delegation that Charlemagne sent to Rome arrested Leo Alexander Greek Artistic Influence Alexander’s conquests helped spread Greek culture throughout the empire. The influence of the assimilated culture is frequently found in art such as the sitting Buddha who is portrayed with flowing robes in the classical Greek style.