[ARCHAEOLOGY THREAD] One of the most pernicious racisms I see regularly is the myth that Africa has been an unimportant place in human history

But the archaeology of Africa is incredible. Black Lives matter, and so does their history
Africa invented humanity

Not just once, but twice

Homo erectus first stood tall in Africa. Using tools, these clever ancestors of ours spread out all over the globe
You think we’re a successful species?

Nah… Not on evolutionary terms. Homo sapiens have only been around a few hundred thousand years

Homo erectus thrived for a couple million
It’s in Africa that we find and have always found the greatest diversity of humanity, in a braided stream of evolution

It’s in Africa that anatomically modern humans emerged and developed art and technology and cooperation and compassion
It’s in Africa that we see early, larger-than-life monuments. Great human achievements

Those pyramids were not built by aliens. They were designed and built by Africans
Imagine the strength of will and mind and body to carve those blocks

And to figure out how to haul them

And to figure out how to build them one on top of another to the sky above
But excuse me, despite what you’ve learned in school, there’s far more to African history than Egypt

The histories and archaeologies of Nubia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Timbuktu, Mozambique and more are often ignored as less than what they were
Africans were the first to invent a whole range of technologies and skills we still use today

Around 40,000 years ago, Africans living in the area of South Africa and Eswatini built the earliest mine at Ngwenya (they mined ocher used as a red pigment)
Nearby in Border Cave, archaeologists have found the oldest mathematical object in the world

The notches on the Lebombo bone are the earliest evidence for counting. Twenty-nine notches might represent a lunar phase calendar
From metal chisels to saws, invention after invention were found in Africa first

Ancient Africans were expert smelters and designed all sorts of kilns

Over 2000 years ago, well before Europeans, the Haya people of Tanzania were smelting high-quality carbon steel
Plus, Africans domesticated several super-important plants and animals

Donkeys were the middle-class version of a car before there were cars

All over Africa, Europe, and Asia these beasts of burden helped fuel the economy and build humanity's great monuments
And who could forget coffee?

Not me

It’s African too, originally native to the highlands of Ethiopia. The story goes that the goatherder Kaldi first noticed the stimulant effects on his goats. The local abbot boiled the beans into a drink that helped him study
Typical histories of ancient European civilizations like the Greeks and Romans too often erase the influence of North African people

North Africa was a bustling crossroads between continents and cultures, facilitating the exchange of people, goods, and ideas
Rome could not have been Rome without North Africa

From the imperial ambitions jumpstarted from wars with powerful Carthage, to the wealth and prosperity of the North African provinces that stabilized the Roman economy

Even some of Rome’s emperors were African
The intellectual flourishing of the medieval Arabic world, with philosophical, scientific, and mathematical ideas & inventions that underpinned the later European age of discovery and Renaissance

It wasn’t possible without Africa
Coffee is a perfect example

While the beans had been cultivated and used as a stimulant in Ethiopia, legend has it that Sheikh Omar was the first to roast the beans at Mocha, Yemen

From there coffee drinking spread across North Africa and up to Europe
It’s tough to trust legends though

Too often Africans have had their heritage robbed from them

Their historical accomplishments explained away by racist Europeans as the work of other people
The history of Great Zimbabwe shows the trend

This site is splendid. It dates from 11th to the 15th century CE

It’s enormous (7.22 square km) and it has some damn fine monumental architecture
The structure called the Great Enclosure demarked important living quarters

It easily rivals the contemporary castles of medieval Europe
Excavations show that Great Zimbabwe was a bustling center of trade

Coins and artifacts originating from up and down the African continent were found

Goods from the Near East and Persia were excavated

Pottery from as far away as China has been excavated at Great Zimbabwe
The local gold mines were the source of wealth

The amazing Birds of Zimbabwe, carved in soapstone, have become an enduring symbol of the modern nation

This story is one of entrenched racism though…
The removal of these birds, like so much looted heritage from this time, was an act of vandalism

The first bird was sold to Cecil Rhodes who then commissioned the archaeologist, James Theodore Bent, to excavate and remove the other ones
These early excavators of Great Zimbabwe could not believe that Black Africans were responsible for the wondrous art and constructions and wealth found at the site

So, one after another they made up other stories, giving credit to people from further North
But, of course, that’s ridiculous

Great Zimbabwe was not some isolated outpost of Mediterranean or Arab gold traders

Similar architecture is found throughout the region, many smaller zimbabwes & later fortresses, attributable to the local predecessors to the Shona people
I’m missing a lot of African history here, because my own research focuses on ancient Greece

But I can tell you for sure that the historical narrative so often told, one of “Western Civilization” is selective & wrong

It intentionally ignores the beauty and history of Africa
The history we’ve learned in school must be rewritten. History and archaeology should be honest and give credit where credit is due

And African history has been erased time and time again

Black Lives Matter, and their history matters too
If you have funds, please donate to @libertinopatren, a student run organization based on equity, providing microgrants to study the ancient Mediterranean and adjacent regions: https://thesportula.wordpress.com/requesting-and-donating/

Or to @SportulaEurope: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sportula-europe?utm_term=ZAmEdzBeR https://twitter.com/Libertinopatren/status/1267503349273935874
You can find citations to the images and more in this thread here: https://twitter.com/FDibbleCitation/status/1271434869441204224
Since Rhodes was mentioned in this thread, seems right to contextualize who he was: a racist colonizer https://twitter.com/chirikure/status/1271519902424236034?s=19
Several people have asked for further reading/resources

I definitely recommend digging deeper into any of the specific sites I mention in thread and citations

And fab resources suggested by archaeologists & historians can be found in discussion below: https://twitter.com/greg_jenner/status/1271756396997025794?s=19
And if you'd like to read more of my archaeology threads, please check here: https://twitter.com/FlintDibble/status/1115585805597270017?s=19
And importantly, check out these top-notch African archaeologists on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Hzenorov/status/1272276529213591553?s=19
These too! https://twitter.com/kate_grillo/status/1272280187686838274?s=19
If video is your jam, check out this TED talk on the underappreciated archaeology of Africa
You can follow @FlintDibble.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

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