12 Surprising Facts About African History

Most people imagine Africa as having no history, being a land of wandering tribesmen competing with lions and hyenas before the Europeans came and brought civilization with their guns, germs and steel.  Europeans dubbed it “ the dark continent”, based on the assumption that Africa had little or no history.

Yet, in recent times, this view is shifting as historians uncover more of the continent’s past. we now know the history of Africa is just s rich and vibrant as that of any other continent.  Learn more about Africa’s history with these 12 surprising facts.

1). May have invented arithmetic

Ishango bone, Ishango And Lebombo Bones, African History

Arithmetic is the oldest and as well as the most fundamental part of mathematics. Some believe that the concept was first used in Africa as early as 20,000 BC. The Ishango bone found in central Africa contains engraving of asymmetrically grouped notches, which may have indicated a numeral system. However, the claim remains disputed.

2).The Great pyramids are incredibly ancient

The Great Pyramids of Egypt, Giza, Africa

The Great Pyramid of Khufu, the oldest of the three Great Pyramids, was built around 2560 BC. This is nearly 1000 years before earliest confirmed evidence of the Chinese writing, 1400 years before the start of the Trojan wars, 2130 years before the Plato was born and 3800 years before anything taller was constructed.

3).There are more pyramids in Sudan than Egypt


While the pyramids of Egypt are famous worldwide, an impressive set of some 255 pyramids is found further down the Nile, in Sudan. According to Slate, “there are more pyramids in one small section of the northern Sudanese desert than there are in the whole of Egypt.”

The Meroe pyramids as they are called were built by the rulers of the ancient Kushite kingdom.  Like their Egyptian counterparts, they were constructed as tombs of Kings and royalty.

4). A tribal culture centuries ahead in metallurgy  

Igbo culture, Igbo metal

The Igbo people of southern Nigeria developed metal casting independently and were among the world’s first to discover the use of iron, around 1500 BC.  That’s nearly 900 years before its first recorded use in China!

The tribe employed a very high level of technical skill in their works, far more complex than any in Europe at that time.

5) This is how a Carthaginian might have looked like

African history

Were Carthaginians black or white? I often stumble upon a question like this on many history forums. The fact is that (mostly) they were neither. The Carthaginians were descendants of the Phoenicians, a seafaring Semitic culture centered along the coastlines of what is now Lebanon.

The Carthaginians formed a powerful maritime empire and were one of the two major powers competing for supremacy in the Mediterranean, the other being the Romans. Following the third Punic war, Roman forces destroyed their capital and annexed their territories.

6). In 1500 BCE, one of the largest cities was located in Africa

Around 1500 BCE, the Egyptian city of Thebes had grown to become the largest city in the world with an estimated population of 75,000 people. It retained the title for an astonishing 600 years before surpassed by the Assyrian city of Nimrud.

Next Page



A. R. Usmani

Historian | Researcher | Likes to live in the past because housing is much cheaper

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.