Sub-Saharan African Societies: Axum, Meroe, the Niger River region, and Bantu Migrations.

We’re going to do some experimental work today, guys, so be prepared to be patient if the technology we’re using gives us fits– it’s always worth playing around with new ways of collaborating and sharing information, even if there are some hiccups.  Here’s what’s going to happen:

  1. You’re going to be divided up into groups, each of which will be responsible for researching the history of one region of African history during the period 600 BCE to 600 CE.
  2. You will use all available resources (textbooks, JSTOR, Google Scholar, etc.) to generate a detailed, annotated, interactive, and ACCURATE digital timeline of your region during the period 600 BCE to 600 CE.  You will be working on this timeline not only with the people in your group, but with ALL of the groups in ALL of my classes.  Your timeline should include information on the political, economic, religious, social, intellectual, and artistic (PERSIA) history of your region.  You will CITE your sources that you use.
  3. You will find additional media (Flickr or other Creative Commons images, YouTube or Vimeo videos, Soundcloud audio, Google maps, etc.) to support your information.  You will correctly attribute this media in the Google spreadsheet template.
  4. You will use the shared Google spreadsheet link I have emailed to you in order to add your information to the template.  The template will automatically update.  DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING THAT IS DISPLAYED IN RED.
  5. Make sure to read over the material other groups have generated before you add anything new! You don’t want to repeat information.

In order to access the Google template, please check the email address you provided me at the beginning of the semester.  I should have shared the appropriate link with each of you.  (Really, only one person in each group needs to enter the information you generate as you work, so only one person will need to access this link.)  If you need to, you can use the emailed link to access the template at home and add more information after class.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When entering BCE dates, please indicate them in the spreadsheet by adding a minus sign before each.  (Thus, 600 BCE becomes -600, and 555 CE is simply 555.)

Here are the timelines for each region.  Remember, they’re automatically updated, so as soon as you type anything into the spreadsheet, it will show up online:

Your homework tonight will be to examine each of the above timelines, and to comment on this post with (a) the most interesting thing you learned from each timeline, and (b) one good observation about sub-Saharan culture or history between the years 600 BCE and 600 CE.

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54 thoughts on “Sub-Saharan African Societies: Axum, Meroe, the Niger River region, and Bantu Migrations.

  1. Axum: Culture was heavily influenced by Christianity after conversion of King Ezana the second
    Meroe: Priests chose who would be king and for how long, rather than it simply being passed to a king’s child like typical monarchies.
    Niger river valley: Their cities typically had no social hierarchy but rather functioned as extended kinship groups similar to hunter-gatherer groups.
    Bantu: language spread across Africa evolving into over 3’000 languages
    Observation: While there isn’t much historical information on some of these cultures, it is clear they all have strong artistic sides whether statues were made with clay,terra cotta, or bronze they all have similar designs

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  2. Axum: A semetic language was developed called Ge’ez. There were early Christian writings found in this language.
    Meroe: Priests decided who deserved to be king. If a man was found unfit for the role of king, he would have to kill himself.
    Niger River: Terra-cotta was a prevalent art form. The statues produced not only give insight to the civilization’s values, but also help determine population of areas and the physical features of the Niger River people.
    Bantu Migration: The Bantu people were monotheistic and believed that a person’s ghost would live on after death. However, there were only three generations of these ghosts.
    Observation: There is plenty of religious art that is able to show both the artistic development of each region alongside spiritual development. Even writing and architecture tend to reflect religion very closely, especially in the case of Axum. They seem like strongly religious cultures.

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  3. Axum- first to print money.
    Meroe- language has yet to have been deciphered.
    Niger river- pretty advanced in pottery and smiting.
    Bantu Migrations- had over 50 languages.
    Observation- The African people and cultures were somewhat advanced prior to European imperialism.

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  4. Axum: were the first to print money, and made Egyptian like burial structures as symbols of power for political leaders
    Meroe: kings had to kill themselves if they were unfit to rule a harsh penalty that inspired good leaders to take the throne rather than cowards
    Niger River: iron smelting was very popular among the Niger river people. they also made Terra cotta statues giving us an indication of population density
    Bantu: The Bantu peoples language consists of over 500 languages
    observation: these African societies were complex and developed independently from the world due to the Sahara. They have rich art and culture and are very unique in many ways.

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