Development that Niger Valley civilization (credit: AncientAfricanHistory.com) 1. Ounjougou (9400 BC) - beforehand pottery2. Dabous (8000 BC) - largest ancient petroglyphs3. Gobero (7550 BC) - earliest graveyard, at an early stage aqualithic culture4. Dufuna (6500 BC) - 2nd oldest dugout canoe5. Tassili N"ajjer (6000 BC) - beforehand boats, domesticated cattle, horses6. Oued Mertoutek (3000 BC) - beforehand writing7. Reduced Tilemsi valley (2500 BC) - oldest tamed millet 8. Dahr Tichit (2000 BC) - early city 9. Lejja (2000 BC) - oldest iron smelting10. Nok (1500 BC) - early on iron smelting, terracotta statues
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Niger sink Civilization The Niger Valley describes the 2,597-mile Niger River"s watershed and its environs, a vast an ar spanningthe lush Delta region of southern Nigeria, north to the dried highlands of southerly Algeria, and west come the lush highlands of Guinea. Contrary to popular belief, this region of West Africa has been occupied for 10s of countless years. The Niger Valley, in particular, lies south of Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, where archaeologists recently found the world"s oldest early modern humans (300,000 BC), and also north of Iwo Eleru, Nigeria, wherein 13,000-year-old person remains have actually been found.And despite widespread ignorance that West african history, there is wealth of historical evidence and written accounts easily accessible to help us trace the breakthrough of this region"s advanced ancient and also medieval civilizations. Beforehand Niger Valley cultures were the an initial to exercise ceremonial burials, domesticate millet and also smelt iron, and were among the firsts come write, make pottery, domesticate cattle, and use boats for travel. Their sectors and solid trading networks offered rise to wealthy empires and city-states whose stone, earthen and also walled urban were pundit hubs the the middle ages world. beforehand PotteryArchaeologists from the college of Geneva dated ceramic sherds uncovered at the Ravin du Hibou site at Ounjougou, Mali come 9400 BC, do them amongst the oldest ceramics in the civilization (only pottery uncovered in Sudan, Japan, China and Siberia, The Dabous Giraffes in Niger (8000 BC) (credit: Bradshaw Foundation)
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which are normally dated to 10,000-12,000 BC, space supposedly older). Located in the sink of Yamé (west the the inside Niger Delta), the ancient, so-called Ounjougou society lived wherein the Dogon human being reside today. And comparable to their current use that ceramics to boil grains and also cereal, archaeologists posit the the ancient pottery was used for the very same purposes. World"s Largest ancient PetroglyphsThe Tenere Desert in Niger is residence to end 800 old rock carvings the depict humans and also animals, consisting of the largest old petroglyphs in the world. At Dabous, about 150 miles north of Agadez, lie thorough rock carvings of life-size giraffes, the biggest of i beg your pardon is 18 feet long (adult giraffes are typically 15-20 feet tall). Archaeologists date the petroglyphs to 8000 BC, one era once the Tenere Desert was likely greener (as further described below) and more hospitable for both giraffes and humans. Early on Aqualithic and Pastoral Civilization; earliest Graveyard Farther southern at Gobero, likewise in Niger"s Tenere Desert, excavators from the college of Chicago uncovered the remains of an advanced civilization that days to 8000 BC and also continuously inhabited this site for almost 5,000 years (so-called "Kiffian Culture"). This site provides one that the earliest examples of domesticating cattle and also practicing ceremonial burials, v the earliest graveyard in the world. Moreover, numerous ancient harpoons, fish hooks and also pottery v wavy lines, which excavators generally associate through pre-historic populations that greatly fished, were among the earliest artefacts established at the site. Over there were likewise the 8,250-year-old continues to be of catfish, tilapia and hippos, further evidencing the the climate was as soon as much an ext humid than today. Pottery shard v wavy currently (8000 BC) (credit: Paul Sereno)
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One of many harpoons discovered at Gobero (8000 BC) (credit: Paul Sereno)
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The Dufuna Canoe (6500 BC) gift hoisted the end of the ground; at this time housed in ~ the nationwide Museum in ~ Damaturu, Nigeria (credit: Peter Breunig)
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Second earliest Known watercraft in the WorldHeavy fishing and also riparian searching led at an early stage Niger Valley human beings to boating over 8,500 years ago. Among the oldest watercrafts ever uncovered anywhere in the world, the so-called Dufuna Canoe (6500 BC), was partially uncovered by a Fulani livestock herdsman digging a well near Dufuna, Nigeria. This website is not far from the Komadugu Gana River, a tributary of Lake Chad, i m sorry would have beenmuch larger in the era. Measure up 27.6 feet long, the Dufuna Canoe is almost 3 times the length of and also carved in a an ext sophisticatedmanner than the so-called Pesse canoe, i beg your pardon was discovered in the Netherlandsand is thought to be the only watercraft older than the Dufuna canoe. The Dufuna discovery demonstrates old Nigerians" early on use the advanced technology and possibly marine trade. early on Depictions the Boats and also Domesticated CattleRock art illustrating boats and domesticated livestock at Tassili N"Ajjer, Algeria (6000 BC) (credit: Gruban)
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Depictions the boats additionally appear roughly 6000 BC in Saharan rock arts at Tassili N"Ajjer in southerly Algeria, which hosts approximately 15,000 ancient rock drawings, some dating as far earlier as12,000 BC, however most dating to 6000 BC. Such boats appear alongside the images of human being usingbows and also arrows, saying boats may have been offered for searching or early on naval warfare. current studies have additionally shown that the Sahara may alternative between 20,000-year wet and dry cycles, for this reason the desert would have actually been replete with rivers and also lakes throughout the time the rock paints were drawn. The many depictions that longhorn tamed cattle, which feed turn off grass, carry out further evidence that this desertwas when green. Such rock paints of humpless, longhorn cattle predate all others exterior Somalia (i.e. Laas Geel) and also aregenerally thought about by excavators to represent the trained Bos Taurus species. Together depictions show thatdomesticated cows were present in Africa as early on or earlier than in Asia. At an early stage AgricultureWest Africa is home to the world"s oldest evidence of domesticated millet, attesting to the region"slong background of agriculture. Dating earlier 4,500 years, the grew millet was identified by college College London archaeologistsat a site in Mali"s lower Tilemsi Valley and is century older than examples found elsewhere in Africa and also Asia. Furthermore west, excavators identified more evidence of tamed millet date to 2000 BC atDahrs Tichit and also Walata in southerly Mauritania and also hundreds of miles away in Birimu, Ghana, which mirrors the an excellent extent the neolithic farming in West Africa. In addition to millet, early people in this region widely cultivated rice. And also recent analyses that rice genomes do it clear the African grew rice (Oryza glaberrima) was tamed independently from the more globally popular eastern rice (Oryza sativa). Researchers also pinpointed the inner Niger Delta (i.e. The portion of the river between Timbuktu and also Djenne-Djenno) together the most likely birthplace of african rice at least 2,000 year ago, withthe oldest evidence from ancient city of Djenne-Djenno in Mali. Together findings shatter longheld misbeliefs the African rice was acquired from asian rice brought to West Africa much later in history. A Nok terracotta statue (195 BC)
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Oldest stole Smelting and Early Terracotta & copper SculptureAncient Niger Valley worlds widely practiced progressed metallurgy and also sculpting. In Lejja, a city in the Niger Delta an ar of southern Nigeria, archaeologists have radiocarbon date iron-smelting heating systems to 2000 BC, making lock the oldest in the world. Evidence of iron smelting and terracotta pottery have likewise been found north that the confluence that the Niger and Benue Rivers in Nigeria, whereby the so-called Nok society thrived as beforehand as 1500 BC. In the Taruga valley alone, 13 old iron smelting furnaces, along with ancient steel tools and weaponry have been identified. And in Taruga, Samun Dukiya, Jos, Sokoto, and Nok in particular, hundreds of intricate terracotta statues have actually been uncovered, part dating together far ago as 1000 BC--centuries older than any known Greek sculpture. The Nok statues depict men and women wearing ornate costumes and also jewelry--some ~ above horseback, rather in symbolic and also abstract gestures and poses. Eventually the popular of sculpting inclay gave method to iron and also bronze. At numerous historical sites in southeast Nigeria, such together Igbo-Ukwo, there room hundreds of instances of 1,200-year-old, elaborate bronze sculptures using advanced methods that Europeans walk not find out until the 1500s. Terracotta statue that a woman (200 BC) (credit: Siyajkak)
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Terracotta statue of a guy (200 BC)
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Bronze courage in the form of a conical shell, discovered at Igbo-Ukwu (800) (credit: Ochiwar)
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Bronze ornament uncovered at Igbo-Ukwu (800) (credit: Ochiwar)
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Famous Ife top made that brass and designed in a naturalistic format (1300s) (credit: Trustees of the brother Museum)
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In addition to iron and bronze, sculpting in other steels such together copper, lead, zinc and alloys such as brass (copper/zinc) gained popularity throughout middle ages times, specifically in the commercial cities the the reduced Niger Valley. Massive production of metallic sculptures and other objects like farming and searching tools and weaponry, fueled the growth and influence of the chief Yoruba city the Ife and also the Edo city that Benin. In this component of the Niger Valley, in particular, metalworking was taken into consideration to be a ritualistic practice and blacksmiths were very valued and honored professionals. Major cities in the Niger sink (credit: AncientAfricanHistory.com)
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Medieval Cities and also the climb of Empires Other old agrarian and also industrial Niger sink towns flourished into affluent centers that trade due to their strategic location between the mineral mines to the south and the salt mines in the Sahara. If some major cities, specifically Kano, Katsina and Zaria in Hausaland, kept their independence, other significant cities were linked under the very first documented empires in the Niger Valley, many notably Wagadu or Ghana (700-1240), Benin or Edo (1000s-1897), Mali (1235-1670) and Songhai (1464-1591). In fact, ceramic from Egypt and as much away as China were uncovered while excavating the Wagadu capital city the Gao--a testimony to its far-reaching trade networks (archaeologists at other sites, such together Yikpabongo in northern Ghana (the modern-day country, not to be puzzled with the Ghana Empire), have even uncovered evidence the the medieval use that bananas and pine, which room not aboriginal to the Niger Valley). The wide range of this an ar was well documented throughout the medieval world. Although originally called "Wagadu" by establishing Emperor Kaya Maghan (700), the more widely recognized name, "Ghana", comes from Iraqi scholar Ibrahim al-Fazari (777), who called it the "land of gold." Al-Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Hamdani (893-945 AD), a Yemeni geographer and historian, additionally described Ghana as having actually the "richest yellow mines on earth." Mansa Musa, emperor of the Mali Empire, top top the Catalan Atlas (1375)
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Al Bakri, a historian and geographer from Cordoba (former caliphate in Spain), additionally said, "On every donkey-load of salt the King of Ghana levies one golden dinar when it is brought into his country and two dinars when it is sent out out." and also Mali Emperor Mansa Musa ns (1280-1337) was famously depicted with a gold crown and coin in the Catalan Atlas (possibly written by Iberian cartographer Abraham Cresques in 1375) and also is widely considered the wealthiest historic number in the world. Regardless of their mineral wealth, Niger Valley cities would come to be even an ext famous because that their huge collections and trade of scholarly books, especially Timbuktu, which was explained by Malian scholar, Mahmud Kati (1468-1552), in his Tarikh al Fettash together a city with"solid institutions, politics liberties, purity of morals...courtesy and generosity towards students and also scholars" -- making it an international intellectual mecca unequaled in the middle ages world. Stone ruins of Gao, a resources of the Wagadu empire (900) (credit: Mamadou Cisee, Shoichiro Takezawa)
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Stone ruins of Kumbi Saleh, the first capital that the Wagadu realm (700) (credit: Serge Robert)
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Mosque that Tichit, Mauritania (1100) (credit: Ville de Tichitt, Mauritanie)
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Medieval rock buildings in Tichit (1000), a significant Soninke city that was resolved by 2000 BC and also was part of the Wagadu, Songhai and also Mali empires (credit: Ville de Tichitt, Mauritanie)
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Gate that the initial earthen wall encircling Kano, Nigeria (1000)
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Gates the the initial earthen wall that encircled Zaria, Nigeria (1000)
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Reconstructed gateway to Gidan Rumfa, the emir"s palace in Kano (1475)
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A busy street in former of medieval buildings in Kano, Nigeria (founded in 999)
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second Oldest college (outside of the Nile Valley) University the Sankore, with the medieval city that Timbuktu in the background
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Timbuktu is additionally the site of the world"s 2nd oldest college (excluding old Nile sink temples), created in 989 together the University/Mosque the Sankore Madrasah. At its height, the university enrolled 25,000 students and housed as much as 700,000 books--more than all over else in the medieval world. Contradictory to renowned belief, the above pyramid-like framework is do of cut rock (not dirt brick), covered with a dirt stucco that is regularly stripped and renewed--a practice that keeps the inner cool throughout the day and also warm in ~ night. Medieval manuscripts from the Djenne Library (credit: Sophie Sarin)
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Largest medieval Libraries; early on Literary IndustryTimbuktu and other Niger Valley urban such together Gao, Kano and Djenne stayed intellectual and also literary hubs because that centuries, attractingscholars from anywhere the world. In ~ their elevation (1200-1700), such urban were widely recognized for their big collections of mathematical, astronomical, religious, poetic, legal and also administrative texts, including over 700,000 that have been revealedin recent years. Timbuktu"s literary culture and industry, in particular, are thoroughly described in middle ages literature. Mohammed al-Wazzan al-Zayati (aka Leo Africanus), who saw Timbuktu in 1509, wrote that "Many manuscripts...are sold . Together sales room more rewarding than any other goods." In the Tariqh al-Sudan (1600), a book that chronicles the city"s history, Timbuktu is defined as "a refuge of scholarly and also righteous folk, a haunt of saints and also ascetics, and also a meeting location for caravans and boats." Indeed, Mansa Musa i purchased publications here and also eventually built the great Mosque the Timbuktu in 1326.A bulk of the so-called "Timbuktu manuscripts" and also other local books were written in the 1300s-1600s in West african Ajami script, which has been used since at least the 11th century to compose in particular West afri languages, including Kanuri, Hausa, Fulani, Wolof and also Yoruba. Although acquired from the Arabic script, the two scripts differ in certain respects.


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A minority of manuscripts, however, especially religious texts, were created in Arabic, Tifinagh and Hebrew scripts. Pages native a Gao manuscript reflecting mathematics and also astronomy (1200)
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Pages from a Timbuktu manuscript showing astronomy tables (1200)
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