Kingdoms & ancient civilizations

 See also Africa South of the Sahara - History/Archaeology


Africa, the Cradle of Human Diversity: Cultural and Biological Approaches to Uncover African Diversity
Editors: Cesar Fortes-Lima, Ezekia Mtetwa, and Carina Schlebusch
Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2021
Series: Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies, Vol. 26
Free open access book.
Chapter 5. Diversity and Variability in the Preindustrial Iron-Smelting Technologies of Great Zimbabwe, Southern Africa. By Ezekia Mtetwa
Chapter 10. Disentangling the Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in African Diaspora Populations from a Genomic Perspective. By Cesar A. Fortes-Lima

African Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Dr. Gloria Emeagwali, Professor of History, Central Connecticut State University, provides citations to books and links to web sites relating to the, "Background History of Africa, African Food Processing Techniques, African Textile Techniques, African Metallurgy, Colonialism and Africa's Technology, and Mathematics in pre-colonial Hausaland, West Africa.

African Mathematical Union. Commission on the History of Mathematics in Africa
Includes issues of their newsletter, articles on "The Ancients", pages on mathematics in Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, profiles of African mathematicians. The newsletter has bibliographies and web sites. Maintained by Scott W. Williams, Professor, Mathematics Dept., State Univ. of New York at Buffalo. [KF]

African Timelines
Chronology with descriptions for Ancient Africa, African Empires, African Slave Trade & European Imperialism, Anti-Colonialism, Post-Independence Africa, plus Sources for Further Study. Site by Cora Agatucci, Associate Professor of English, Central Oregon Community College, Bend, Oregon.

Afrique orale: Archives sonores et ressources documentaires de la tradition orale en Afrique
In French. Site on oral traditions, Amadou Hampâthé Bâ and Boubou Hama. Includes audio clips of 'L'histoire de l'Afrique racontée' par Boubou Hama, (Président de l'Assemblée nationale du Niger de 1960 à 1974), and 'L'explication d'un mythe' par Amadou Hampâté BA. Has a database of oral traditions holdings from Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal and other countries. Has a French translation of a 1236 document from the Mali empire. Site maintained by the Centre d'études lingusitiques et historiques par tradition orale, CELHTO. Based in Niamey, Niger. [KF]

Afriques (Paris)
In French and English. E-journal published by Centre d’études des mondes africains, Paris, France. "une revue internationale d’histoire des mondes africains, qui privilégie les époques antérieures au XIXe siècle" Issue No. 1, Printemps 2010 has the theme Les chemins de l’identité en Afrique du XVe au XXe siècle. Indexes - author, keyword, geographic entity.

Ancient Africa: Lesson Plans and Activities
Links to curriculum units on Ancient Africa developed by schools around the U.S. Page by Lin and Don Donn.

Annenberg / Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CPB - Mali and Songhai
"The empire of Mali, which dated from the early thirteenth century to the late fifteenth century, rose out of what was once the empire of Ghana. Mali had been a state inside of the Ghanaian empire. After Ghana fell because of invading forces and internal disputes, Mali rose to greatness under the leadership of a legendary king named Sundiata, the "Lion King." As Mali declined, Songhai became the "largest and most powerful kingdom in medieval West Africa." Part of Annenberg's Collapse, Why do Civilizations Fall?

Anonymous Classics: African Literature: Epics and Assimilated (in pdf)
Draft of proposed uniform title headings for Anonymous Classics in African Literature. Compiled by Nadine Boddaert. Includes a bibliography of sources (for pre-colonial epics, oral literature). On the web site of the IFLA Cataloging Section.

Anti Slavery International - Breaking the Silence. Learning About the Transatlantic Slave Trade
For teachers, lesson plans. Organised by themes - Africa before the Transatlantic Slave Trade, through to Legacies in Africa, the Americas, Caribbean and Europe and Slavery Today. African kingdoms timeline. Racist views of Africa, etc. "a joint initiative between UNESCO, Anti-Slavery International, the British Council and the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD)." Based in London, England. [KF]

Asante Kingdom
The African Studies Center, Leiden, Library, Documentation and Information Department has a bibliography on the Asante Kingdom with citations to books, journal articles, web sites plus an introduction to Asante. Topics: History of the Asante Kingdom, Asante Kingship and Chieftaincy, European-Asante Relations. [KF]

Asanteman Today. The Official Website of Asanteman
"The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, is the Head of the Ashanti Kingdom." His present-day activities, photographs." Site based in Ghana.

Ashanti Home Page
History of the Ashanti people and kingdom, photographs. Sources are not indicated. Maintained by Steve Garbrah, based in Australia.

BBC Lost Kingdoms of Africa
"British art historian Dr Gus Casely-Hayford explores the pre-colonial history of some of Africa's most important kingdoms."
Series 1.
1. Nubia
2. Ethiopia
3. Great Zimbabwe
4. West Africa. Benin Plaques.  Benin art at the British Museum.

Belcher, Stephen - African Epics Resource Page
"...a resource for the study of African epics. The core of the site is a listing of available published epic texts divided by language group and by performer, with brief performance data and bibliographic references." Has lists of sources and bibliographies for - the epic of Sunjata and the Mali empire; the history of the kingdoms of Segou and Kaarta; hunters' narratives ("hunters' songs often take the form of extended narratives which closely resemble the historical epic singing"); historical narratives, "in the times before and after Sunjata," which involve migrations and genealogies; Fulbe epic traditions (Futa Tooro and Massina and the East); Gambian Mandinka histories. Belcher has taught Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University (1991-1998). He is the author of Epic Traditions in Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).

Boston University. African Studies Center. Africa in the K-12 Classroom
Teaching tips and articles, Curriculum Guide: “How Big is Africa?”, podcasts, resources by grade level, lesson plans & activities, read aloud books with video (Wangari Maathai), videos about African languages, activities, etc.

  • Artifact map - click on any artifact on the map (images included) and find a list of resources for the classroom about the artifact’s origins, background, and history.
  • How to Write about Africa. By Binyavanga Wainaina.

  • Ancient to Medieval History
    Nubia, Kingdom of Axum, the Spread of Islam, Empires of Medieval West Africa: Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, the Swahili Coast and the Indian Ocean Trade, Great Zimbabwe, and African and European Images of Each Other in History.

  • History - 15th-19th Centuries. Enslavement and the trade of Enslaved People.

  • Math and Science. Includes mathematics in the history of Sub-Saharan Africa, by Paulus Gerdes,

    • Specific Countries. Extra resources for Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal.

    British Broadcasting Company, The Story of Africa
    "...the history of the continent from an African perspective." "from the origins of humankind to the end of South African apartheid" by major African historians (Jacob Ajayi, George Abungu, Director-General of the National Museums of Kenya and others). Includes audio of each segment of the BBC program. (Requires sound card, speaker or headphone). Each segment has a timeline, bibliography, useful links.

    Bugaje, Usman Muhammad
    Contains full text conference papers and other studies by Bugaje. Topics include Muslims and Islam in Nigeria, women and Islam, Islamic education in Katsina State, Usman Dan Fodio, the Sokoto Caliphate, governance, education, and the Hajj, the U.S. and the Middle East. [KF]

    Caravans of Gold. Fragments in Time: Art, Culture and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa
    Teacher resources for the Workshop May 28, 2020 arising from the exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Sponsored by Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Georgetown University, and Howard University.,-fragments-in-time-art,-culture,-and-exchange-across-medieval-saharan-africa.html?mc_cid=4e18f33082&mc_eid=79af6d0774

    Des frontières en Afrique du XIIe au XXe siècle.
    In French. Full text book. Paris: UNESCO, 2005. 313 pages, in PDF. Papers from a 1999 Bamako conference. Includes authors - Alpha Oumar Konaré, président de la République du Mali, Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, Boubacar Barry, Anthony I. Asiwaju, Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Pierre Kipré, Patrick Harries, Thierno Bah, Martin Z. Njeuma, Sékéné Mody Cissokom and others. Topics include - quel avenir pour les frontières africaines ?, cas en Afrique australe et orientale, cas en Afrique centrale, l’exemple des chefferies Bamiléké et du royaume Bamum, la frontière entre le Cameroun et le Nigeria (1885-1992), cas en Afrique du Nord et du Nord-Ouest, les frontières du Songhaï à la fin du XVe et au XVIe siècle, le Soudan-Mali du XVIIe au XIXe siècle, le Burkina Faso et ses voisins aux XIXe et XXe siècles, etc.

    Dotawo : a journal of Nubian studies
    Open access journal. Examples of contents - Vol. 5, 2018 focuses on "Nubian women, both ancient and contemporary. Nubian women, whether they were queens or commoners." Vol. 3, 2016 covers Know-Hows and Techniques in Ancient Sudan.

    Fage, J. D. - A Guide to Original Sources for Precolonial Western Africa Published in European Languages : for the most part in book form
    Madison : African Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1994. 200 p. AUniversity of Wisconsin Libraries Africana Digitization Project. See the Copyright notice for use.

    Florida Geographic Alliance - African Maps
    "The Florida Geographic Alliance is a professional organization affiliated with the National Geographic Society...and housed at the Florida State University within the Institute of Science and Public Affairs. It is comprised of Primary, Secondary, Community College, and University Geography Educators,..." Has maps in Adobe pdf format - African Continent with names, same map without names, Timbuktu with Mansa Musa's route, and other maps. [KF]

    Historical dictionary of ancient and medieval Nubia [2004]
    Author: Lobban, Richard.
    Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, ©2004.
    (lx, 511 pages) : illustrations, maps
    Online access requires payment. Many libraries subscribe.

    Internet African History Sourcebook - Paul Halsall
    Has full-text sources for African history arranged by topics. Includes the Black Athena Debate, human origins, Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, Islam in Africa, West African kingdoms, Great Zimbabwe, with topics up to the present. Maintained by Paul Halsall, Fordham University. [KF]

    Kingdoms of the Medieval Sudan
    An introduction to the history of Sudanic Africa (the states of Songhay, Kanem-Bornu, and Hausaland.) Discusses trade and Islam. Photographs by Lucy Johnson illustrate - Images of Islam (Grand Mosque at Jenne), River Scenes, Daily Life, The Dogon, Traditions and Beliefs, The Desert. Has multiple-choice tests. Project arises from a Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to Xavier University's Center for the Advancement of Teaching (New Orleans, LA). Site by J. Rotondo-McCord. [KF]

    Lefkowitz, Mary - Not Out of Africa
    Excerpts from Lefkowitz's book Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History. On The History Place web site.

    Library of Congress - Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu
    "Dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, the ancient manuscripts... are indicative of the high level of civilization attained by West Africans during the Middle Ages." "The manuscripts...are from the Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library and the Library of Cheick Zayni Baye of Boujbeha,..." Has images of the documents which concern Islamic knowledge of astronomy, law, the Songhai Empire, slavery, Sufi religion, mathematics, political governance, medical knowledge, attitude towards non-Muslims, trade. [KF]

    Library of Congress - Islamic Manuscripts from Mali
    "...twenty-two Islamic manuscripts [in Arabic script] containing important insights into the life and culture of West Africans during the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Era." Topics include astrology, commerce, Islamic law, health care, mysticism, slavery, and agriculture. A project of the Library of Congress and the Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library of Timbuktu, Mali. photographs of Mali by Philip Harrington, as well as a selection of maps from the Library of Congress's Geography and Map Division.
    Includes maps - Timbuktu in Space and Time, a history of Timbuktu as an Islamic cultural center, and Timbuktu architecture.

    Lobban, Richard - Chronology of Ancient Nubia (Sudan)
    Covers from 3-1.5 Million BP to 1504 AD. From the book, Historical dictionary of ancient and medieval Nubia, Scarecrow Press. To be pub. 2004.

    Mali Interactive
    Archaeological excavations and information on the people and culture of Jenn?. The project leaders include Profs. Rod and Susan McIntosh, archaeologists, from Rice University's Anthropology Dept. A goal is to save archaeological information from destruction by erosion. See "Jenne-jeno, an ancient African city." Jenn? is the earliest known urban settlement south of the Sahara and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Photos, news, teaching resources, information on Mali and archaeology.

    Mali Magic - Google Arts & Culture
    Mali's manuscripts, music, monuments & contemporary Mali art.
    Short general articles, are not signed. Many images, photographs of Mali.
    Includes -
    How Timbuktu Protected Its Trove of Manuscripts

    The Art of Storytelling in the Timbuktu Manuscripts 

    The Timbuktu Manuscripts and the Human Right to Education

    Timbuktu Home to a Humanist and Tolerant Islam

    Malian Medical Manuscripts

    Early Exploration of the Earth and Stars

    Reflections on Slavery and Human Rights in Timbuktu

    The Role of Mathematics in the Peace (and Manuscripts) of Timbuktu

    Masonen, Pekka - "Not Quite Venus from the Waves: The Almoravid Conquest of Ghana in the Modern Historiography of Western Africa"
    Full text article, [co-authored with Humphrey J. Fisher], from History in Africa, Vol. 23, 1996, pp. 197-232. The article "focuses on the alleged Almoravid conquest of Ghana in 1076 AD and the spread of Islam in the Sudanic Africa." "This version is not identical to the printed version of 1996. Several printing errors are corrected and there are a few additions, including subtitles. The arguments are, however, unchanged." "...there is no direct evidence for any conquest, still less a violent and destructive conquest, of Ghana by the Almoravids. The conquest hypothesis is a European creation." On Dr. Masonen's web site.

    The Meanings of Timbuktu - Edited by Shamil Jeppie and Souleymane Bachir Diagne
    Full text of the book is online. 416 pages. HSRC Press, 2008. Topics include Arabic calligraphy, Arabic literature, Ajami, Muslim women scholars, Mali manuscripts, Arabic material in Zanzibar, etc. [KF]

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. Timeline of Art History
    The African Art section covers different regions (Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Guinea Coast, Southern Africa, Western & Central Sudan, Archaeology & Rock Art). Maps, bibliographies, timeline for the continent. Explanations of features in the works depicted. Covers pre-colonial African empires & kingdoms, Islam in Africa, Christianity in Ethiopia and the Kongo Kingdom, African leadership, women, Trade among European and African precolonial nations, etc.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Art of Ancient Egypt, Nubia, and the Near East
    Nubian Art. The Museum possesses the largest and most important collection of Nubian art outside of Khartoum.

    New York Public Library
    Historical photographs include

    The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
    Nubia Salvage Project. The Institute participated in the 1960s UNESCO effort to rescue archaeological sites from the rising waters of the Aswan High Dam. Artifacts recovered from that effort were presented in two exhibitions: Nubia, Its Glory and Its People, 1987 Exhibition. Description and history by Bruce Williams and Vanished Kingdoms of the Nile, The Rediscovery of Ancient Nubia, 1992 Exhibition. Includes an image of a Nubian princess ca. 1320 B.C. Nubia Slavage Project:
    Photographic Archives. Seven historical photographs from the Sudan (Nubia). A sample of photographs taken by Institute expeditions in the early 20th century.
    Sudan page:
    Photographic Archives main page:

    Oriental Institiute. The 1905-1907 Breasted Expeditions to Egypt and the Sudan: A Photographic Study
    "This document is a revised catalog of the 1,055 photographs [taken by Professor James Henry Breasted and his colleagues] contained in an Oriental Institute text/microfiche publication entitled THE 1905-1907 BREASTED EXPEDITIONS TO EGYPT AND THE SUDAN: A PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDY." Based at the University of Chicago.

    PBS [Public Broadcasting Service]. Africa's Great Civilizations
    Grades 6-8, 9-12. Discussion questions. Handouts.
    Mitochondrial Eve and Homo Sapiens in Africa’s Great Rift Valley.
    Aksum Kingdom: Trade and Ancient Africa.
    The Expansion of Islam and Trade in Africa.
    Queen Njinga Mbandi.
    Berlin Conference of 1884-1885.
    Links to California State Board of Education standards.

    SFDAS, Section Francaise de la direction des antiquites du Soudan [French Archaeological Unit in the Sudan]
    In French. Online books, journals, conference proceedings. Based in Khartoum.

    Serials include:

    • Dotawo : a journal of Nubian studies.
    • Dotawo No. 3
    • Also online Vol. 1-5, 2014-2018 from Fairfield University.; DiMenna-Nyselius Library. ; Punctum Books.
    • Archéologie du Nil moyen
    • In French and English. Annual. 1986-2006 10 volumes
    • Published by Association pour la promotion de l'archéologie nilotique (Lille, France)
    • Lille, France : F. Geus,  Vol. 1 (1986)-; Ceased with v. 10.
    • "Fouilles d'Oxford en Nubie" "Oxford Excavations in Nubia" in Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Liverpool, Institute of Archaeology
    • Vols. 8-15, 1921-1928
    • Oxford University organized a series of expeditions to southern Egypt and Sudan. The expeditions occurred from 1910 to 1936.
    • MNL. Meroitic newsletter.
    • Paris: École pratique des hautes études (France).; Section des sciences religieuses. ; Centre de recherches archéologiques.
    • In French. No. 1-30, 1968-2003

    Books include:

    • Excavations at Kerma ...
    • Author(s): Reisner, George Andrew, 1867-1942.
    • Corp Author(s): Joint Egyptian Expedition of Harvard University and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
    • Publication: Cambridge, Mass., Peabody Museum of Harvard University, 1923.
    • 2 volumes illustrations, 78 plates, XXVI folded plans 28 cm.
    • Language: English
    • Series: Harvard African studies,; vol. 5-6
    • The royal tombs of Ballana and Qustul
    • Author(s): Emery, Walter B. 1903-1971. (Walter Bryan), with chapters by L. P. Kirwan.
    • Egypt.; Maṣlaḥat al-Āthār. ; Centre national de la recherche scientifique (France)
    • Publication: Cairo: Government Press, Boulâq, 1938.
    • illustrations, plates, folded maps ; 35 cm
    • Contents: V. 1. Text -- v. 2. Plates.
    • Note(s): At head of title: Service des antiquités de l'Égypte. Mission archéologique de Nubie, 1929-1934.
    • Parts 1-10. Plates 1-3.
    • Buhen
    • Author(s): Randall-MacIver, David, 1873-1945.
    • Woolley, Leonard,; 1880-1960, ; author.
    • Philadelphia, University Museum, 1911
    • 2 volumes color frontispiece, illustrations (plans) 96 plates, plans A-G (2 folded) 28 cm.
    • Buhen is the site of one of the fortresses established in Nubia by the pharaohs to defend their southern border and control the trade routes that passed through the Nile from Sudan.

    Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - African Voices
    Site for a permanent exhibit at the Museum in Washington, D.C. Attractive site featuring master sculptors (Lamidi Fakeye), an interactive timeline (from pre-history, West African empires, to the present), society, metalworking, clay pottery and a master potter, an annotated bibliography. Uses Flash software; some captions are difficult to read. [KF]

    Smithsonian National Museum of African Art - Mali Empire and Djenne Figures
    Has photos of two terracotta figures, a short history, map, timeline, suggested classroom activities, readings, links to further web resources.

    Sundiata and Mansa Musa on the Web
    An annotated directory of "resources about Sondiata and Mansa Musa, kings of the Empire of Mali in the 13th and 14th centuries. It also covers some aspects of later history, including the oral poetry that have preserved Sundiata's deeds for hundreds of years." Includes histories, books, primary sources, teacher materials. Maintained by Tim Spalding. Presented in Association with Amazon.

    Sungbo's Eredo, Africa's Largest Single Monument
    A 10th century 100 mile long wall and moat, Sungbo's Eredo, was one of the largest monuments in sub-Saharan Africa. It was erected around a Yoruba kingdom.

    Torres, Leida I - "The Black Presence in Antiquity: a Selected Bibliography" by Leida I. Torres and Andrea Only
    Bibliography of books, chapters in books, journal articles from Howard University's, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. [KF]

    UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Africa
    "The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage... agreement, signed to date by more than 150 States Parties, was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. Its primary mission is to define and conserve the world's heritage, by drawing up a list of sites whose outstanding values should be preserved for all humanity and to ensure their protection through a closer co-operation among nations."
    Africa sites are in Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo-Kinshasa, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia,  Zimbabwe.

    Unfolding the Mystery of Timbuktu - Ginny White
    "In this historical geography unit, students follow the changes in the ancient African city of Timbuktu from its founding to today." For Grade 6. Part of the Geographic Education and Technology Program, of the the "Florida Geographic Alliance, a professional organization affiliated with the National Geographic Society...and housed at the Florida State University within the Institute of Science and Public Affairs."

    United Kingdom. National Archives
    Has online exhibitions such as the Black Presence: Asian and Black History in Britain, 1500-1850, which includes Black Romans and West Africa before the Europeans(with amap of West Africa in 1600).

    University of Calgary - The Islamic World to 1600
    "From the introduction to the first millennium of Islamic history" Includes under Regional Dynasties, a section on West Africa. Developed by the Applied History Research Group, University of Calgary. also in his religion.

    West Africa Historical and Contemporary Maps
    Four maps showing ancient empires and contemporary maps of West Africa, Africa, Ghana; source of maps not given. On C. K. Ladzekpo's African Music and Dance web site.

    West African Arabic Manuscript Database
    A bi-lingual union catalog of records for over 20,000 Arabic manuscripts from West Africa. Find citations by authors, nicknames, titles, subjects. Includes manuscripts from Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Northern Nigeria and from collections in Paris and Northwestern Univ. The documents represent "the literary activity of Muslim literati in the Sahel region during the approximately 150 years prior to colonial conquest." Charles C. Stewart, Professor, Department of History, University of Illinois, Champaign is General Editor. [KF]

    Wonders of the African World - Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
    Site for the Public Broadcasting Service TV series. Covers Black Pharaohs, Nubia / Kush, Meroe, Gedi, the Swahili People, Zanzibar, the Ashanti and Dahomey (Benin) Kingdoms, Aksum, Gondar, the Churches of Lalibela, the Dogon, Grand Mosque of Djenne, Empires of Mali & Ghana, the Tuareg, Great Zimbabwe, a 1,000 year old South African city - Mapangubwe, the Shona People, etc. Site based on the TV programs hosted by Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Harvard Univ.) Includes a kids' activity page, teachers' lesson plans, audio clips. [KF]