Africa 500 BCE

Bantu farmers from West Africa are beginning to spread out across the continent.

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What is happening in Africa in 500BCE

In North Africa, the Phoenician colony of Carthage has become the center of a powerful maritime empire which dominates the western Mediterranean.

In the Nile Valley, the foreign power of Persia now rules Egypt. To its south, however, the civilization of Nubia continues to develop independently, becoming less “Egyptian” in its expression, and more “African”.

In sub-Saharan Africa, farming has taken root amongst the Bantu peoples of the West African rain forest region. This transition has given them the edge over their hunter-gatherer neighbors, and, starting from present-day Nigeria and Cameroon, they are expanding outwards. One branch is moving into the northern Congo region, while another is skirting the rain forests and heading towards the Great Lakes. These are stone-using peoples; but to the north, in present-day central Nigeria, an iron-using society, known to modern scholars as the Nok culture, has appeared. Already their art is highly developed, showing clear affinities with the later artistic traditions in the region.

Next map, Africa 200 BCE

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Ancient Carthage

Societies and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa

Ancient Egyptian Civilization

History and civilization of Kush and Nubia

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The Persian Empire

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