Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Evolution of Man & Religion: Out of Africa, Part 3 of 3

Bones Are Not the Only Artifacts Which Are Important

When studying the origins of humanity most typically you're going to study the geology of an area coupled with the material remains left by earlier species of primal or proto-humans. This is because any remaining fossilized bones are either eroded by time or extremely rare to find. Hence, any archaeological excavation will concentrate on any detritus (waste) left behind by a family, clan, or tribe.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss. It Just Makes One Angry

My secondary education never spoke about the evolution of man... nor would my church. When attending public university I tried a geology class but found it boring and decided to drop it. My interest at the time lay in mathematics and science. And when attending seminary for a three year (I made it in four!) M.Div. degree with a major in NT Studies and minor in Pastoral Care, we only studied "biblical" archaeological excavations and never discussed the subject of evolution or evolutionary origins.

Thus and thus I had to later learn evolution on my own. Which is why I am taking some time for those Christians who are interested in the subject to write at length article upon article on the subject of human origins from a Christian perspective (other evolutionary subjects like cosmology, astrobiology, the sciences, or metaphysics can be found elsewhere in the Topical lists and Indexes of this website). And in my case, from a processual Christian perspective since my earlier Calvinistic education based in Platonic Westernism simply boxes God into theological jargon which I find completely unreal, unhelpful, and misleading. Thus the website here.

Speaking of which, let me mention again that I never wanted this Spirit burden. However, in a long year of faith collapse and eventual Spirit annointed revival, the Lord has given me a task to do and so I am. It's difficult. It requires thinking through a lot of wrong-headed theology in order to discern fields of worthless tares - and when doing, by removing there rank entrails. Nor does this Spirit burden go away. So that when that year ended the Lord called and the Spirit moved and Relevancy22 was bourne from a heart burdened to tell what the Lord wants us to know.

So if my readers don't like what's written here, fine. My bible friends don't either. But their kids, and their kid's kids, will need to know what I know and am burdened to share. I don't expect those who have been ingrained their entire lifetimes under classical versions of bible interpretations to change. It's really, really hard. I can testify to that fact. Too, very, very few can go through these trials and endure. But we all can speak and share God's love whether we have correct theologies or not. Love is what we are to do. Our mission is to share Jesus' love in as many ways as I have been sharing it with you politically, economically, ecologically, personally, relationally, spiritually, and academically.

Mankind Doesn't Have One Origin but Every Origin

Lastly, I've noticed that proto-human migrations have travelled back-and-forth, in-and-out of Africa hundreds of thousands of years before homo sapiens (modern man) had ever evolved in East-Central Africa. And that the speciation table listed above tells us why.... There has simply been many, many, many different kinds of "earlier forms of humans" developing; evolving; learning to use various kinds of tools for differing kinds of tasks; becoming self-aware of themselves and, their surroundings; developing various regional speech and communication patterns; discovering a variety of modes of surviving challenging  climatiic changes; and on and on and on.

Consider that OUR most recent homo origins began around 300,000 BC (homo heidelbergensis) and more typically around 150,000 BC (homo sapiens). That by the time "modern man" had evolved much of our earlier history had developed; been tested; had travelled far-and-wide around the world as the Ice Ages allowed; and simply found us as a very, very young species with a very, very, very, old ancestry beginning around the 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 year mark (apes go even farther back to around 20,000,000 years ago!).

So don't be confused by the artifacts and bones which are found scattered around the world. We should expect this. But our most "direct" genetic ancestors, "modern man," is just now coming into it's prime before being replaced again by whatever our genetic lines and environment may bring our way. (Myself, I expect some form of post-human biologic, quantum-based, artificial intelligence to continue humanity in ways we simply can't. But alongside that "organic synthetic" would be any naturally occurring biological forms which may evolve deeper into, or move away from, the homo sapien speciation line towards something else.). Peace.

As ever, blessings,

R.E. Slater
March 19, 2023

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Middle Stone Age Cultural Artefacts. (A-D) Bifacial foliates from northern Africa (A, Mugharet el Aliya; B-D, Adrar Bous). (E-G) Bifacial foliates from southern Africa (Blombos Cave). (H,I) Tanged tools from northern Africa. (J) Segmented piece bearing mastic residue from southern Africa (Sibudu). (K) Engraved ochre fragment (Blombos Cave). (L-N) Engraved ostrich eggshell fragments from southern Africa (Diepkloof). (O,P) Bone points from southern Africa (Sibudu and Blombos Cave, respectively). (Q) Bone point from northern Africa (El Mnasra). (R-V) Perforated Trivia gibbosula shells from northern Africa (R,S, Grotte de Pigeons; T-V, Rhafas, Ifri n'Ammar, and Oued Djebbana, respectively). (W-Aa) Perforated Nassarius kraussianus shells from Blombos Cave. (Ab) Conus ebraeus shell bead (Conus 2) from southern Africa (Border Cave). (Ac) Ochre fragment shaped by grinding from southern Africa (Blombos Cave). All scales are 1 cm. Boxed items indicate rescaled artefacts. Images reproduced, with permission, from (A-D, H, I) The Stone Age Institute; (E-G, J-P, Ac) from [35]; (Q) from [47]; and (R-Ab) from [35,47,48].

African archaeology

Olduvai Gorge, where some of the earliest hominins are believed to have evolved.

Africa has the longest record of human habitation in the world. The first hominins emerged 6-7 million years ago, and among the earliest anatomically modern human skulls found so far were discovered at Omo Kibish,[1] Jebel Irhoud, and Florisbad.[2][3][4][5]

European archaeology, as well as that of North Africa, is generally divided into the Stone Age (comprising the Lower Paleolithic, the Middle Paleolithic, the Upper Paleolithic, the Mesolithic, and the Neolithic), the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. For Africa south of the SaharaAfrican archaeology is classified in a slightly different way, with the Paleolithic generally divided into the Early Stone Age, the Middle Stone Age, and the Later Stone Age.[6] After these three stages come the Pastoral Neolithic, the Iron Age and then later historical periods.

Africa's prehistory has been largely ignored, with the exception of research into early human evolution.[1] However, it is overseen by the PanAfrican Archaeological Association, whose members consist of professional archaeologists from all over Africa.[7]

Early Stone Age Africa

The Early Stone Age (ESA), which spanned from approximately 2.6 million years ago (mya) - 280,000 years ago (ya), describes a period in African prehistory in which the first stone tools were developed, including both Oldowan and Acheulean.[8] Early sites along the East African Rift include Lomekwi in the Turkana Basin, Kenya, and Olduvai Gorge farther south in modern-day Tanzania. The earliest hominids were discovered in Ethiopia and titled Ardipithecus ramidus. The diverging species of hominin are known as australopithecines and were first discovered in Olduvai. Australopithecines and their fossils include Paranthropus boisei, the most famous being nicknamed "Zinj" or "Nutcracker man" by Mary Leakey, the archaeologist who found it. Another older, famous australopithecine, related to those found at Olduvai Gorge but found approximately 2000 kilometers to the north east in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia, is Lucy, who was discovered by Donald Johanson and his team in 1974.[9]

The earliest relative dating for stone tool use was discovered in 2015, by Sonia Harmand, at Lomekwi 3 in West Turkana, Kenya with stone tools dating to 3.3 million years ago.[10] Lomekwi tools differ from Oldowan tools in their primitive technological features making them large and heavy. The Lomekwi are thought to have been made by Australopithecus afarensis.[11] Prior to this discovery, some of the oldest stone tools were found at Lokalalei 2C in West Turkana, where artifacts exhibiting knapping processes conducted by Australopithecus africanus date to about 2.34 million years ago, marking the beginning of the ESA. Incorporation of tools provided early hominins the ability to respond to changes more readily outside of the immediate needs of daily-life and extended adaptability behavioral patterns into long-term trends experienced over generations.[12]

Around a million years later, Homo erectus evolved into a more advanced species and made tools known as the Acheulean handaxes. These handaxes were a multipurpose bifacial technology that remained unchanged for thousands of years. The technology demonstrates an increase in brain development and complexity in Homo erectus, as shown by the increased level of forethought and knowledge of material required for production of the tools.[13] Homo erectus are also associated with the first instances of "modern human living," such as fire, "modern emotions," and art.[14] The earliest evidence for hominins controlling fire is found in Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa.[15] Along with their new technologies, they were also a part of the first "Out of Africa" movement and spread to all parts of the world. This movement took place somewhere around 1.8-0.8 million years ago, where Homo erectus spread out from Africa and into Eurasia.[16] One of the most notable Homo erectus skeletons ever found was that of Nariokotome Boy, who was found near Lake Turkana in Kenya, discovered by Richard Leakey and Kamoya Kimeu. Nariokotome Boy was a teenager when he died, and his skeleton exhibits the first evidence for caring in the archaeological record, because he was cared for through his debilitating scoliosis.[17]

Just recently discovered was a new addition to the line of human ancestors named Homo naledi. Found in Rising Star Cave in South Africa, Homo naledi is undated but has features of both primitive and modern humans.[18]

Middle Stone Age Africa

The Middle Stone Age (MSA), dating to roughly 280,000 to 40,000 years ago, is characterized by the continuation of hunter-gatherer lifestyles and, as more recently recognized, perhaps the origins of modern human behavior and cognition.[8] Even though hominin species' brains were reorganized and modernized at a fast rate, the behavior of these hominins did not adapt quite as fast. This caused the hominin species to be quite primitive.[8] African hunter-gatherers hunted larger mammals and relied on an assortment of edible plants,[19] both in the grasslands that are now the Sahara desert, and the rain forests of Central Africa.[20] Coastal peoples also subsisted on seafood and numerous middens indicate their diet.[8]

Homo sapiens appear for the first time in the archaeological record around 300–270,000 years ago in Africa.[21][2][3][4][5] They soon developed a more advanced method of flint tool manufacture involving striking flakes from a prepared core. This permitted more control over the size and shape of finished tool and led to the development of composite tools, projectile points and scrapers, which could be hafted onto spears, arrows or handles. In turn, this technology permitted more efficient hunting such as that demonstrated by the Aterian industry. In eastern Africa, stone tools were made from raw materials such as quartz and obsidian using the prepared core method, which varied by region.[22] It was during the late Middle Pleistocene that many groups began to migrate away from eastern Africa, especially southward. Technological improvements such as Aterian methods and the development of new skills helped these people adapt to new landscapes.[8]

Although still hunter-gatherers, there is evidence that these early humans also actively managed food resources as well as simply harvesting them. The Congo Basin was first occupied around this time; different conditions and diet there produced recognizably different behaviors and tool types. There are also the earliest signs of art appearing through the use of ochre as a body decoration and paint, and burial rituals may have been practiced as well.[23]

Evidence of a variety behaviors indicative of Behavioral modernity date to the African Middle Stone age, associated with early Homo sapiens. Abstract imagery, widened subsistence strategies, and other "modern" behaviors have been discovered from that period in Africa, especially South, North, and East Africa. The Blombos Cave site in South Africa, for example, is famous for rectangular slabs of ochre engraved with geometric designs. Using multiple dating techniques, the site was confirmed to be around 77,000 and 100–75,000 years old.[24][25] Ostrich egg shell containers engraved with geometric designs dating to 60,000 years ago were found at Diepkloof, South Africa.[26] Beads and other personal ornamentation have been found from Morocco which might be as much as 130,000 years old; as well, the Cave of Hearths in South Africa has yielded a number of beads dating from significantly prior to 50,000 years ago.[8] These types of ornamentations represent some of the earliest signs of symbolic behavior amongst human ancestors, including developments in cognition and social relations.[27] The beads from Bizmoune Cave, in southwest Morocco, are thought to be over 142,000 years old.[27] Shell beads dating to about 75,000 years ago have been found at Blombos Cave, South Africa.[28][29][30]

Specialized projectile weapons as well have been found at various sites in Middle Stone Age Africa, including bone and stone arrowheads at South African sites such as Sibudu Cave (along with an early bone needle also found at Sibudu) dating approximately 60,000-70,000 years ago,[31][32][33][34][35] and bone harpoons at the Central African site of Katanda dating to about 90,000 years ago.[36] Evidence also exists for the systematic heat treating of silcrete stone to increase its flake-ability for the purpose of toolmaking, beginning approximately 164,000 years ago at the South African site of Pinnacle Point and becoming common there for the creation of microlithic tools at about 72,000 years ago.[37][38] Early stone-tipped projectile weapons (a characteristic tool of Homo sapiens), the stone tips of javelins or throwing spears, were discovered in 2013 at the Ethiopian site of Gademotta, and date to around 279,000 years ago.[39]

In 2008, an ochre processing workshop likely for the production of paints was uncovered dating to ca. 100,000 years ago at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Analysis shows that a liquefied pigment-rich mixture was produced and stored in the two abalone shells, and that ochre, bone, charcoal, grindstones and hammer-stones also formed a composite part of the toolkits. Evidence for the complexity of the task includes procuring and combining raw materials from various sources (implying they had a mental template of the process they would follow), possibly using pyrotechnology to facilitate fat extraction from bone, using a probable recipe to produce the compound, and the use of shell containers for mixing and storage for later use.[40][41][42] Modern behaviors, such as the making of shell beads, bone tools and arrows, and the use of ochre pigment, are evident at a Kenyan site by 78,000-67,000 years ago.[43]

Expanding subsistence strategies beyond big-game hunting and the consequential diversity in tool types has been noted as signs of behavioral modernity. A number of South African sites have shown an early reliance on aquatic resources from fish to shellfish. Pinnacle Point, in particular, shows exploitation of marine resources as early as 120,000 years ago, perhaps in response to more arid conditions inland.[44] Establishing a reliance on predictable shellfish deposits, for example, could reduce mobility and facilitate complex social systems and symbolic behavior. Blombos Cave and Site 440 in Sudan both show evidence of fishing as well. Taphonomic change in fish skeletons from Blombos Cave have been interpreted as capture of live fish, clearly an intentional human behavior.[8]

Humans in North Africa (Nazlet SabahaEgypt) are known to have dabbled in chert mining, as early as ≈100,000 years ago, for the construction of stone tools.[45][self-published source?][46]

Evidence was found in 2018, dating to about 320,000 years ago, at the Kenyan site of Olorgesailie, of the early emergence of modern behaviors including: long-distance trade networks (involving goods such as obsidian), the use of pigments, and the possible making of projectile points. It is observed by the authors of three 2018 studies on the site, that the evidence of these behaviors is approximately contemporary to the earliest known Homo sapiens fossil remains from Africa (such as at Jebel Irhoud and Florisbad), and they suggest that complex and modern behaviors began in Africa around the time of the emergence of Homo sapiens.[47][48][49]

In 2019, further evidence of early complex projectile weapons in Africa was found at Aduma, Ethiopia, dated 80,000–100,000 years ago, in the form of points considered likely to belong to darts delivered by spear throwers.[50]

Later Stone Age Africa

The Hofmeyr Skull is a specimen of a 36,000-year-old human skull that was found in 1952 near HofmeyrSouth Africa. Osteological analysis of the cranium by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology indicates that the specimen is morphologically distinct from recent groups in subequatorial Africa, including the local Khoisan populations[citation needed]. The Hofmeyr fossil instead has a very close affinity with other Upper Paleolithic skulls from Europe. Some scientists have interpreted this relationship as being consistent with the Out-of-Africa theory, which hypothesizes that at least some Upper Paleolithic human groups in Africa, Europe and Asia should morphologically resemble each other.[51]

Around 10,000 BCE, African hunter-gatherer societies developed microlith technologies. Composite microlithic tools were useful for harvesting wild grasses and also permitted the production of fine shell and bone fish hooks, which may have allowed for the exploitation of a broader range of food resources. Some of the earliest pottery in Africa has also been found in the Sahara and is associated with hunter/gatherer populations.[52] By 9,400 BCE, in Ounjougou, central Mali, pottery is thought to been independently invented by local hunter-gatherers as they became more sedentary and began to intensively gather local wild grains (such as millet).[53]

Archaeological evidence has attested that population settlements occurred in Nubia as early as the Late Pleistocene era and from the 5th millennium BC onwards, whereas there is "no or scanty evidence" of human presence in the Egyptian Nile Valley during these periods, which may be due to problems in site preservation.[54]

In 2013, Iberomaurusian skeletons from the prehistoric sites of Taforalt and Afalou in the Maghreb were analyzed for ancient DNA. All of the specimens belonged to maternal clades associated with either North Africa or the northern and southern Mediterranean littoral, indicating gene flow between these areas since the Epipaleolithic.[55][56] The ancient Taforalt individuals carried the mtDNA haplogroups U6HJT and V, which points to population continuity in the region dating from the Iberomaurusian period.[57]

There is an on-going debate in regards to using modern-day hunter-gatherer societies, like the San, as an analogy to societies of the Later Stone Age.[58]

"Pastoral Neolithic" and Neolithic Africa

Cultural developments during the early Neolithic led nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles to be slowly supplanted by pastoralism in northern Africa.[59][60] Africa's earliest evidence for domesticated animals comes from the Sahara c. 7000-6000 BCE, and evidence for new cattle herding lifestyles are preserved at both archaeological sites such as Gobero and in Saharan rock art.[59] As the Sahara increased in size due to aridification, early pastoralists migrated south and eastwards into the Niger and Nile valleys, bringing with them herding practices that would also spread throughout eastern and southern Africa.[61] The Savanna Pastoral Neolithic and the Elmenteitan material culture traditions are found in eastern Africa. Recent aDNA research has provided evidence for the spread of Pastoral Neolithic herders from eastern Africa into southern Africa.[62][63]

In the western Sahel the rise of settled communities occurred largely as a result of the domestication of millet and of sorghum. Archaeology points to sizable urban populations in West Africa later, beginning by the 2nd millennium BCE. Symbiotic trade relations developed before the trans-Saharan trade, in response to the opportunities afforded by north–south diversity in ecosystems across deserts, grasslands, and forests. The agriculturists received salt from the desert nomads. The desert nomads acquired meat and other foods from pastoralists and farmers of the grasslands and from fishermen on the Niger River. The forest-dwellers provided furs and meat.[64]

In West Africa, Dhar Tichitt and Oualata in present-day Mauritania figure prominently among the early urban centers, dated to ~2,000 BCE. About 500 stone settlements litter the region in the former savannah of the Sahara. Its inhabitants fished and grew millet. The ancestors of the Soninke, of the Mandé peoples, may have been responsible for constructing such settlements. Around 300 BCE the region became more desiccated and the settlements began to decline, most likely relocating to Koumbi Saleh.[65] Architectural evidence and the comparison of pottery styles suggest that Dhar Tichitt was related to the subsequent Ghana Empire and Djenné-Djenno cultures (in present-day Mali).[66][67]

Metal-using Africa

Farming societies in Africa developed after the origins and spread of livestock pastoralism throughout the continent. The early use of metallurgy by farming communities may have been developed independently in Africa around 3000-2000 BCE.[68] Pockets of iron usage appeared in subsequent millennia but metal did not supplant stone in the south of the continent until around 500 BCE, when both iron and copper spread southwards through the continent, reaching the Cape around 200 CE. Although some details regarding the Bantu expansion are still controversial amongst archaeologists, linguists, and historians, the widespread use of iron does seem to have played a major role in the spread of Bantu farming communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Contact and interaction between hunter/gatherer, pastoralist, and incoming farming communities remains an important topic of interest in African archaeology today.

In 2014, ancient DNA analysis of a 2,330-year-old male forager's skeleton in southern Africa found that the specimen belonged to the L0d2c1c mtDNA haplogroup. This maternal clade is today most closely associated with the Ju, a subgroup of the indigenous San people, which points to population continuity in the region.[69] In 2016, a Late Iron Age desiccated mummy from the Tuli region in northern Botswana was also found to belong to haplogroup L0.[70]

In central Nigeria, West Africa, around 1,500 BCE, the Nok culture developed on the Jos Plateau.[71] The Nok people produced lifelike representations in terracotta, including human heads and human figures, elephants, and other animals. By 500 BCE, and possibly a few centuries earlier,[72] they were smelting iron. By 200 AD the Nok culture had vanished. Based on stylistic similarities with the Nok terracottas, the bronze figurines of the Yoruba kingdom of Ife and those of the Bini kingdom of Benin are now believed to be continuations of the traditions of the earlier Nok culture.[73]

Another site in southern Africa that used different types of metal was Bosutswe. The people who lived there used materials such as copper, bronze, and iron.[74] It was proven that this metalworking was the basis for the trade that was responsible for the site's success[75] and kept the power in the ruling Lose class.[74]

Historical Africa

Trade with the Near East and Europe led to strong mercantile empires growing such as the Ethiopian kingdom of Axum and Harla Kingdom. Various states and polities also developed in West Africa including Ife, the Kingdom of BeninIgbo UkwuDjenné-DjennoGhana EmpireBono State and the Ashanti Empire.[76] Bantu peoples in southern Africa built the impressive site of Great Zimbabwe between the 10th and 15th centuries CE. The north of the continent had close cultural and economic ties with the Classical and medieval Mediterranean. Cattle herding became important in the Horn of Africa and huge earthwork enclosures were built to corral the animals. The people of Christian Ethiopia produced impressive rock-cut monolithic churches such as that of St George at Lalibela during the 13th century and the first Portuguese forts appeared soon after this, penetrating as far south as Zambia.

See also


  1. Jump up to:a b Barham, Lawrence; Mitchell, Peter (2008). The First Africans: African Archaeology from the Earliest Toolmakers to Most Recent Foragers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-521-61265-4.
  2. Jump up to:a b Stringer, C. (2016). "The origin and evolution of Homo sapiens"Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences371 (1698): 20150237. doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0237PMC 4920294PMID 27298468.
  3. Jump up to:a b Sample, Ian (7 June 2017). "Oldest Homo sapiens bones ever found shake foundations of the human story"The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
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