What influenced the formation of many different African civilizations?What influenced the formation of many different African civilizations?, history homework help
August 24, 2017
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Africa is the second-largest continent in the world and covers one fifth of Earth’s land surface. Africa is three times larger than the United States as it stretches more than 5,000 miles from north to south. Because of Africa’s size and geography, many different civilizations arose there. The Egyptian civilization found along the Nile was one of these civilizations. Three important kingdoms found in the Niger River Valley in West Africa were the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. These three kingdoms were powerful from A.D. 300 to 1600.
The kingdom of Ghana was ruled by a powerful king as it rose to power around 400 A.D. The word Ghanameans chief. Ghanaian society was made up of many clans. A clan is a group of people descended from a common ancestor. The king was responsible for settling arguments between the clans. To rule the lands of the kingdom, the king appointed governors. The areas ruled by governors had soldiers and workers who were given different jobs.
The economy of the kingdom of Ghana was based on agriculture, mining, and trade. The salt mines of the Sahara Desert in the north and the gold mines in the south provided the kingdom with a strong economy. Merchants were responsible to trade goods throughout the kingdom, and the Ghanaian kingdom became rich from taxing traveling merchants. Every time goods passed through the territory, they were taxed. This wealth enabled Ghana to keep a large army and a lavish court for their emperor. Muslim merchants bought goods made in Ghana and sold them throughout the Muslim empire. Muslim traders also brought foreign goods into Ghana. Overall, the economy was controlled by the king who worked to keep the value of gold as high as possible.
Ghana was able to successfully defend itself from attack by Muslims in the north, but eventually the invading Muslims defeated the armies of Ghana. By the end of the 12th century, the Muslims overthrew the king. However the influence of the Muslims did not last long.
During the 13th century, the Mali kingdom came into power. The Mali kingdom was ruled by leaders who became Muslims and were very powerful. Mali’s economy was built on gold, ivory, cattle, and cotton, and became very strong. Gold from Mali’s mines was traded for salt from the Sahara as salt was in short supply in West Africa.
The first ruler of Mali was Sundiata. While Sundiata reigned, Mali’s agricultural basis expanded. Mansa Musa was probably the greatest ruler of Mali. During his reign, the empire grew as he established a system of government and set up a tax system. Mansa Musa also several big achievements. Mansa Musa converted to Islam and went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the Holy City of Islam, taking with him 60,000 men. As he traveled eastward, a long procession of camels was loaded with huge quantities of gold. Mansa Musa built Timbuktu into a spectacular city known for its burnt brick architecture and many mosques, or Muslim houses of worship. The Sankore University was established, and Timbuktu became a great center of education and scholarship. The Kingdom of Mali declined slowly after Mansa Musa’s death in 1337. The group which soon gained power was called Songhai.
Following the rule of the Mali, civil war broke out. The fighting ended when the powerful rulers from the Songhai kingdom took power. The great king of the Songhai Empire, Sonni Ali, was extending his empire at about the same time that Christopher Columbus was discovering America. The Songhai Empire was at its strongest when Askia the Great, a Muslim, ruled. He ordered that the rule of Islam, the Quran, was to be the law of the land. Under Askia’s reign, the city of Timbuktu became the center of Islamic culture. Islamic scholars from faraway lands were attracted to Timbuktu because of its university. Like many other kingdoms around the world, all three rose due to powerful leaders who were able to unite the people, and fell due to civil war and outside invasions.
Contributions to Civilization
In art and architecture, African traditions go back in time to the ancient rock painting of the Sahara, the pyramids of Egypt and Nubia, the rock churches of Ethiopia, and the stones of Great Zimbabwe. In about A.D. 1100, sculptors developed a method of bronze casting known as the lost-wax process. The wax softness meant that it could be carved and used as a model. The model was then covered with clay and heated, melting the wax. Bronze was poured into the clay form, and when the bronze cooled, the clay was washed away. The lost-wax process is still used today to make custom jewelry. The sculptors of this time are some of the best in the world. The stylized form would influence future artists such as Pablo Picasso. The stylized forms of African masks and other works had a dramatic influence on the development of modern art in the western world. Traditional African music was based on intricate and complex patterns of rhythm and has influenced modern forms of western music such as jazz.
In West Africa, griots, or professional poets, record keepers, historians, and political advisors to chiefs recited ancient stories to preserve history and folk tales from generation-to-generation. Some griots today can remember detailed family histories that go back more than 200 years and know the brave deeds of kings of 700 years ago. Griots often used riddles to sharpen the wits of the audience. Another popular type of tale told was the story without an ending. It challenged the audience to create a fitting lesson or conclusion. Traditional African storytelling continues to this day.
Civilizations of North, Central, and South America
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