Introduction: Africa's Great Civilizations— Part 1: Origins (05:12)
Henry Louis, Jr. will explore 2000 years of the African Continent's history from the beginning of humankind until the start of the 20th century. Homo sapiens have lived in the Great Rift Valley for over 200,000 years. Idàltu, the oldest Homo sapien fossilized skull, was discovered in 1997; experts describe the impact of the discovery. (Credits)
Humanity's Beginning (03:49)
Experts have confirmed that Africa is the cradle of humanity through archeological evidence and scientific discovery. Mitochondrial Eve is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor of all currently living humans and lived at the same time as Idàltu. Dr. Emma Mbua and Dr. Jason Lewis describe what life would have been like 2,000 years ago.
Migrating Out of Africa (05:22)
Between 80,000 and 50,000 years ago, Homo sapiens began to populate the rest of the world. Dr. Richard Leakey hypothesizes that one community gained speech, which gave them an advantage over the other sects. Archeologist Christopher Henshilwood discovered the Blombos Cave, which contained the first forms of human artwork; experts describe the impact of the discovery.
Changing Ecosystems (03:12)
Located by Wadi Sura, the Cave of Swimmers depicts human swimming next to animals grazing. Dr. Emmanuel Ndierna describes how the African countryside evolved from a lush landscape to the Saharan desert. Over time humans evolved from hunter/gatherers to farmers.
Migrating to the Nile Valley (04:10)
Experts describe how the Nile Valley attracted humans and grew into an agrarian society. The non-food growing population became artisans and merchants. Burial pits provide excellent archeological evidence of its culture.
Ancient Egypt (03:03)
The Scorpion King consolidated the lands that became Ancient Egypt. Ivory tags were found in Abydos that some experts believe is the world's first written language that was developed independently from Ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform. Writing helped Egypt's rulers maintain power.
Great Pyramid of Giza (03:08)
Writing helped Egypt's rulers maintain power. Egyptologists believe that the pyramid was built as a tomb for the Pharaoh Khufu. Egyptian farmers paid off their taxes by working on Giza during the flooding season.
Kingdom of Kush (04:58)
George Reisner discovered the bones of a mass human sacrifice of Kerma in 1913. Murtada Bushara tours the ruins of a defensive wall traveling the perimeter of the city. Kush supplied Egypt with gold and other luxuries.
Controlling the Gold Trade (04:06)
Experts discuss the relationship between Kush and Egypt, leading to a war between the two countries. Tuthmosis I strapped the dead body of the Nubian king to his ship. Egypt required annual tribute from the former kingdom of Kush and introduced the country to Amun, the god of gods.
Regaining Independence (03:21)
Piankhi warred with Egypt to establish the proper worship of the god Amun and made Jebel Barkal sacred. Nubians began to feel they were better Egyptians than the Egyptians. After he reunited Egypt he and his descendants became the black pharaohs of the Nile.
Across Africa (04:49)
Tradespeople intending to produce ceramic, discovered iron. The metal began to be used as a form of currency and to increase agricultural production. A local farmer in Nigeria gave Bernard Fagg a Nok Terracotta sculpture.
Iron Use in Egypt (06:45)
Meroe became the new capital of the kingdom of Kush; a hundred pyramids serve as royal burial chambers. Kush began to mine gold and iron. Ancient Rome defeated Cleopatra's Egypt and battled against Kandake Amanirenas.
Credits: Africa's Great Civilizations—Part 1: Origins (00:44)
Credits: Africa's Great Civilizations—Part 1: Origins
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