The first modern humans lived in Africa. This consisted of people in the upper Paleolithic period. They were markedly different from earlier humans. They learnt how to make different types of tools from diverse materials, which they used for different activities. They were foragers and their activities influenced the shape of the environment. Agriculture is relatively new phenomenon as early humans survived by foraging. The land could not sustain large populations and people lived in small groups, which made it possible to find food and move whenever necessary. Although they got some of their food from hunting, they also engaged in gathering of foods such as fruits, roots, eggs, and honey. Men and women shared responsibility of looking for food. They did not divide their responsibility based on gender. Women were as likely to hunt as the men were.
Ancient foragers were healthier and lived in more wealth compared to the ancient farmers. They needed less as they moved constantly. They were not prone to disease since they did not stay in one place as farmers did. They had shorter life spans because they often faced physical danger from wild animals. They had varied diets and they could get the food they needed in a short time, which enabled them to engage in other activities. Africans living during the upper Paleolithic period were broadly divided into four groups and their nature determined the strategies and methods used for foraging. The groups consist of language families, which include the Khoisan, Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, and Afro-Asiatic. The foraging methods used depended on the nature of their environment. The first language developed in Africa and this enabled the people to become more sociable and to move to diverse areas. This development signified a changed mind that was able to come up with inventions and this enabled them to adapt to their environment (Gilbert and Reynolds 25-39).
Foragers manipulated the environment ways such as burning and tending, which were meant to make it easier for them to hunt and gather food. Emerging social demands and changes in climate may have compelled foragers to start producing food. They used simple tools made from materials such as stones and sticks to get the food they required. The first producers were in the Middle East and they domesticated the wild grasses into wheat and barley. The farming practice spread to North Africa. The diverse range of climates in Africa prevented this early practice from spreading to the rest of the continent and the other regions developed agriculture independently. Domestication of plants took place in West Africa, Ethiopia, and in the West Africa Sahel. Crops such as sorghum, coffee, yams, and pearl and finger millet were domesticated.
While people diversified their crop domestication efforts, they did not much as much emphasis in domesticating animals. The only animal that was domesticated was the guinea fowl. Common domestic animals such as sheep, camels, goats, and cattle were introduced from other areas. It is likely that domestic cattle in North Africa were introduced from southwest Asia. Other cattle were introduced from India. The sheep and goats in Africa were introduced form the Middle East and camels were domesticated in Arabia and were introduced to the Nile valley. The introduction of food production changed human life. It transformed their behavior and the way they lived and interacted with each other. It contributed to increasing the population. Disease spread because of people living together. The high population ensured that there were survivors and the farming community became immune to those diseases (Gilbert and Reynolds 41-65).
Ancient Egypt was among the first regions in the world to develop a bureaucratic state. The Nile was an important factor to its progress as it enabled the development of agriculture and it eased communication. The region adopted a divine kingship political ideology that enabled it to last for many years. The ruling class was able to maintain its authority during the archaic period because it had military power and it had discovered the process of writing. The development of the writing process enabled the people to maintain the same religion. Famine and a weakening authority led to the decline of the old kingdom. The state was reunified during the middle kingdom and it expanded its boundaries during this time. During this time, the state developed an agricultural system and it was able to increase its agricultural production.
The unity in the
middle kingdom was disrupted when the Hykos invaded Lower
Egypt and took control. They were able to do this because they had
bronze weapons and chariots. It was later reunified under Ahmose. During the
period of the New Kingdom there was increased trade to other parts of Africa and changes in the way people viewed religion and
power. Ancient Egypt
collapsed during the late period following invasion from different forces. Other
North African societies such as Carthage and Nubia
influenced the formation of world societies. They interacted through trade,
conquest, and occupation of land. This influenced the way later societies
formed. The presence of the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean made the region strategic, especially in terms
of communication, transport, and trade (Gilbert and Reynolds 67-84).
Gilbert, Erik and Jonathan Reynolds T. “Finding Food and Talking about it.” Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. PeachPit Press, 2012. Print
Gilbert, Erik and Jonathan Reynolds T. “North and Northeast Africa in Early World History.” Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. PeachPit Press, 2012. Print
Gilbert, Erik and Jonathan Reynolds T. “Settled Life: Food Production, Technology, and Migrations.” Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present. PeachPit Press, 2012. Print