5 African Civilizations that were as Awesome as Ancient Egypt

Songhai Empire
Songhai Empire - GlobalSecurity.org

Ancient Egypt has often been the main reference point when interpreting the past and experience of Africa.

But African history and civilization did not all start from Egypt as there were other kingdoms that sprang up to become equally powerful empires.

Here are 5 other awesome African civilisations that are not Egypt:

Nok Sculpture
Nok Sculpture

Nok Civilization

This was first discovered in 1928 when some unique terracotta artefacts were unearthed by tin miners in the southern part of Kaduna state in central Nigeria. Further research into the Nok showed that they may have been the first complex civilization in West Africa, existing from at least 900 BC until their disappearance in around 200 AD.

The Nok were believed to be very advanced, with a complex judicial system having classes of courts used for adjudicating civil and criminal cases.

They were also said to be advanced in metal works, forging spear points, small knives and bracelets. What stands out of their creations were their terracotta statues, which were largely people with elongated heads and hollow looking eyes.

Many theories have suggested that these unusual statues were used as charms to prevent illness and crop failure, while others believe that they stood for influentials who were worshipped by the people.

In 200 AD, the Nok population declined under mysterious circumstances. But some historians have attributed their disappearance to famine and climate change.


Songhai Empire
Songhai Empire – GlobalSecurity.org

Songhai Empire

Formed in the 15th century from some of the former regions of the Mali Empire, this kingdom was considered as one of the greatest empires in the world.

It spanned thousands of miles across much areas in Western Africa and was said to be even larger than Western Europe. The empire flourished due to the wealth it gained from trading in gold and salt and the control it had over the lucrative trans-Saharan trade routes and other trade centres at Gao and Djenné.

It also had control over several other cultures, which were all held together by a bureaucratic system of government. With a new currency created by the empire, these cultures were able were united in their activities.

In the early 16th century, the Empire came under the rule of King Muhammad I Askia, who conquered new lands and set up scores of Islamic schools in Timbuktu. Historians say that the size of the Songhai empire contributed to its downfall, as it became too difficult to control.

By the end of the 16th century, the empire had stumbled into civil war. The Sultan of Morocco eventually attacked the kingdom, leading to its collapse.


Ruins of Ancient Carthage
Ruins of Ancient Carthage

Ancient Carthage

Located in modern-day Tunisia, the ancient city-state of Carthage, which covers much of the Mediterranean, was founded by the Phoenicians on the coast of North Africa around 814 BCE.

The empire achieved commercial success due to its geographical location and trading activities that occurred around the Sahara desert.

The empire was also noted for its purple dye and fine textiles, with skills in crafts. It is said that their Roman rivals even tried to copy their designs but failed.

In terms of agriculture, the Carthaginians used irrigation and other methods of husbandry to grow wheat and other crops in abundance. They sold their agricultural produce in ports across the Mediterranean.

Carthage further put in place a sophisticated system of governmental checks and balances, wrote a constitution, and managed an extensive library. History says most of their literature was destroyed or given as gifts to Numidian kings.

Carthage was unfortunately burned and plundered by the expansion of the Roman Empire.

The Romans had then regarded the Carthaginians as the most dangerous of all their enemies mainly because of the presence of Hannibal, the Carthaginian general during the Second Punic War and the greatest military strategist of all time.

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