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Encyclopedia > African archaeology

The continent of Africa has the longest record of human activity of any part of the world and along with its geographical extent, it contains an enormous archaeological resource. Scholars have studied Egyptology for centuries but archaeologists have only paid serious attention to the rest of the continent in more recent times. Africa is the worlds second-largest continent in both area and population, after Asia. ... Egyptology is the scientific study of Ancient Egypt and Egyptian antiquities and is a regional and thematic branch of the larger disciplines of ancient history and archaeology. ...


Pliocene and Pleistocene Africa

The earliest evidence of archaeological activity anywhere comes from the Rift Valley sites of East Africa such as Olduvai Gorge in modern-day Tanzania. It is thought that the earliest hominids evolved in Olduvai or somewhere similar around 4 million years ago. They are known as australopithecines and fossils of them include the famous Lucy. The first, crude Oldowan stone tools produced there were made as long as 2.5 million years ago by the later homo habilis. Around a million years later, Developed Oldowan and then Acheulian industries produced more advanced handaxes made by homo erectus. Archaeological study of this era was pioneered by people such as Louis Leakey and his family and has centered on the earliest development of tool use, fire and diet in hominid societies. Sites such as Kalambo Falls have produced well-preserved evidence of this activity. In geology, a rift valley is a valley created by the formation of a rift. ... Olduvai Gorge from space Topography of Olduvai Gorge The Olduvai Gorge is a 30 mile long, steep-sided ravine, part of the Great Rift Valley which stretches along eastern Africa. ... Genera Subfamily Ponginae Pongo - Orangutans Gigantopithecus (extinct) Sivapithecus (extinct) Subfamily Homininae Gorilla - Gorillas Pan - Chimpanzees Homo - Humans Paranthropus (extinct) Australopithecus (extinct) Sahelanthropus (extinct) Ardipithecus (extinct) Kenyanthropus (extinct) Pierolapithecus (extinct) (tentative) The Hominids (Hominidae) are a biological family which includes humans, extinct species of humanlike creatures and the other great apes... Species A. afarensis (Lucy) Formerly Australopithecus, now Paranthropus Australopithecines (genus Australopithecus) are a group of extinct Hominids that are closely related to humans. ... A fossil Ammonite Fossils are the mineralized remains of animals or plants or other traces such as footprints. ... Binomial name Australopithecus afarensis Johanson & White, 1978 Lucy is a 3. ... Oldowan is an anthropological designation for an industry of stone tools used by prehistoric hominids in the very early Paleolithic. ... Binomial name Homo habilis Leakey et al. ... Acheulean (also spelled Acheulian) is the name of an industry of stone tools used by prehistoric hominids. ... A hand axe is a bifacial Paleolithic core tool. ... Binomial name Homo erectus Dubois, 1894 Homo erectus (upright man) is a hominid species that is believed to be an ancestor of modern humans. ... Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey (August 7, 1903–October 1, 1972) was a British archaeologist whose work was important in establishing human evolutionary development in Africa. ... Genera Subfamily Ponginae Pongo - Orangutans Gigantopithecus (extinct) Sivapithecus (extinct) Subfamily Homininae Gorilla - Gorillas Pan - Chimpanzees Homo - Humans Paranthropus (extinct) Australopithecus (extinct) Sahelanthropus (extinct) Ardipithecus (extinct) Kenyanthropus (extinct) Pierolapithecus (extinct) (tentative) The Hominids (Hominidae) are a biological family which includes humans, extinct species of humanlike creatures and the other great apes... Categories: Stub | Archaeology | Waterfalls | Zambia | Geography of Tanzania ...

By the beginning of the Middle Palaeolithic, around 120,000 BC, African societies were hunter-gatherers proficient in exploiting the herds of large mammals that populated the continent for meat, including elephants and the fearsome African Buffalo. The area that is now the Sahara desert was open grassland and it seems that early humans preferred this plains environment to the jungles in the centre. Coastal peoples also existed on seafood and numerous middens indicate their diet. The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic – lit. ... In anthropology, the hunter-gatherer way of life is that led by certain societies of the Neolithic Era based on the exploitation of wild plants and animals. ... Binomial name Syncerus caffer (Sparrman, 1779) The African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a bovid from the family of the Bovidae. ... A midden, or kitchen midden, is a dump for domestic waste. ...

Homo sapiens sapiens appears for the first time in the archaeological record around 100,000 BC in Africa and soon developed a more advanced method of flint tool manufacture involving striking flakes from a prepared core. This permitted more control over the size and shape of finished tool and led to the development of composite tools, that is projectile points and scrapers which could be hafted onto spears, arrows or handles. In turn this technology permitted more efficient hunting such as that demonstrated by the Aterian industry. Human beings are defined variously in biological, spiritual, and cultural terms, or in combinations thereof. ... Flake can be: a popular variety of edible fish served in fish shops in Australia, usually one of several species of shark: see flake (fish). ... Science In archaeology, a core is a distinctive artifact that results from the practice of lithic reduction. ... In archaeology, a projectile point is an object that was hafted and used either as knife or projectile tip or both. ... In archeology, scrapers are unifacial tools that were used either for hideworking or woodworking purposes. ... The Aterian industry is a name given by archaeologists to a type of stone tool manufacturing dating to the middle Palaeolithic in the region around the Atlas Mountains and the north west Sahara. ...

Although still hunter-gatherers, there is evidence that these early humans also actively managed the food resource as well as simply harvesting it. The jungles of the Congo Basin were first occupied around this time; different conditions and diet there produced recognisably different behaviours and tool types. There are also the earliest signs of art appearing through the use of ochre as a body decoration and paint and burial rituals may have been practised. Image of Kinshasa and Brazzaville, taken by NASA; the Congo River is visible in the center of the photograph Length 4,380 km Elevation of the source m Average discharge 41,800 m³/s Area watershed 3,680,000 km² Origin Mouth Atlantic Ocean Basin countries Dem. ... Great Museums in the World (Louvre, Metropolitan Museum, MoMA, Picasso …) CGFA: A Virtual Art Museum Very large website with good reproduction quality scans of thousands of paintings Art-Atlas. ... Ochre or Ocher (pronounced OAK-ur, from the Greek ochros, yellow) is a color, usually described as golden-yellow or light yellow brown. ... A ritual is a formalised, predetermined set of symbolic actions generally performed in a particular environment at a regular, recurring interval. ...

Later Stone Age Africa

Around 10,000 BC, African societies developed microlith technology which permitted even finer flint tools that could be mounted in rows on a handle. Such a tool was useful for harvesting wild grasses and also permitted fine shell and bone fish hooks, further varying diet. These incipient Neolithic conditions led to eventual settlement sites being founded in parts of Africa as the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle was replaced by an agrarian and herding society. Other parts of the continent remained in the Palaeolithic however. Africa's earliest evidence for pottery and domesticated plants and animals comes from the north of the continent, in around 7000-6000 BC, and this different lifestyle is preserved in the images of Saharan rock art. As the Sahara increased in size due to global climate change, its early farmers were forced south and eastwards, to the Niger and Nile valleys spreading their new ideas as they moved. A microlith is a small stone tool, typically knapped of flint or chert. ... The Neolithic, (Greek neos=new, lithos=stone, or New Stone Age) was a period in the development of human technology that is traditionally the last part of the Stone Age. ... The central Sahara region is a significant area for archaeological study, both in its dimensions and in the precious treasures spread around the immense desert. ... The Nile in Egypt Length 6 695 km Elevation of the source 1 134 m Average discharge 2 830 m³/s Area watershed 3 400 000 km² Origin Africa Mouth the Mediterranean Basin countries Uganda - Sudan - Egypt The Nile (Arabic: النيل an-nīl), in Africa, is one of the two...

Metal-using Africa

Wheat and barley, sheep and goats were quickly adopted from Asia by African farmers but the early use of metalworking was not widely introduced in Africa until the Egyptians joined the Bronze Age around 4,000 BC. Pockets of bronze usage appeared in subsequent millennia but metal did not supplant stone in the continent until around 500BC when both iron and copper spread southwards through the continent, reaching the Cape around 200AD. The widespread use of iron revolutionised the Bantu farming communities who drove out the remaining hunter-gatherer societies they encountered as they expanded to farm wider areas of savanna The technologically superior Bantu spread across southern Africa and became rich and powerful, producing iron for tools and weapons in large, industrial quantities. The Bronze Age is a period in a civilizations development when the most advanced metalworking has developed the techniques of smelting copper from natural outcroppings and alloys it to cast bronze. ... Map showing the approximate distribution of Bantu (dull yellow) vs. ... Savanna is a grassland dotted with trees, and occurs in several types of biomes. ...

Historical Africa

Trade with the Near East and Europe led to strong mercantile empires growing such as the Ethiopian kingdom of Axum. The Bantu people built the impressive site of Great Zimbabwe between the 10th and 15th centuries AD. The north of the continent had close cultural and economic ties with the Classicaland medieval Mediterranean. Cattle herding became important in East Africa and huge earthwork enclosures were built to corral the animals. The people of Christian Ethiopia produced impressive rock-cut monolithic churches such as that of St George at Lalibela during the 13th century and the first Portuguese forts appeared soon after this, penetrating as far south as Zambia. Axum, also Aksum, is a city in northern Ethiopia, located at the base of the Adoua mountains. ... The large walled construction is the Great Enclosure. ... The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... Church of St. ... After the city of Aksum, Lalibela is modern Ethiopias holiest city and a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. ...

External links

  • African Archaeology (http://www.african-archaeology.net/) - African Archaeology : a web directory on Africa.

  Results from FactBites:
African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter, African American Archaeology Newsletter (671 words)
The African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter is published quarterly, with issues in March, June, September, and December, and addresses the subject areas of African diasporas worldwide and related archaeological and historical studies.
The current publication is a successor to the "African-American Archaeology Newsletter" that was produced in hard copy editions up through 2000.
The African-American Archaeology Newsletter was edited and published by Theresa Singleton through 1993, by Thomas Wheaton through 1996, and by John McCarthy through 2000.
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Archaeology is in an excellent position to fill a gap left by the largely Euroamerican written record.
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