African Civilization (page 2)

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012

Sub-Saharan Africa

Historians generally refer to the people of sub-Saharan Africa as Bantu. Probably because they were isolated from the rest of the world by oceans on both sides and the Sahara Desert to the north, the Bantu had little contact with outsiders until the early modern period. Hunter-gatherers at first, they eventually acquired the rudiments of civilization: the ability to cultivate their own food, the skill to fashion iron tools, and the desire to organize their societies in a formal way.

After about 100 BC, the domestication of the camel enabled North Africans and Egyptians to cross the Sahara in search of slaves and hired mercenaries. Camels are essential for crossing large deserts because, unlike horses, they can survive for many days without water; additionally, their feet are soled not with hard hoofs but with soft pads, perfectly adapted for walking and running on sand. Sub-Saharan Africans fought in all the armies of Mediterranean and southern Europe until the Middle Ages. This provides evidence that the Europeans knew of the southern African peoples and their societies and that Europe absorbed at least a smattering of sub-Saharan African culture long before the modern era.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The Rise of Islam and African Civilization to AD 1000 Practice Test

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