These ingenious African innovations existed before colonisation

Mildred Europa Taylor June 17, 2018

Nubian pyramids


Egypt has the best-known African architecture with its beautiful pyramids. One of its oldest building, a stepped stone pyramid, dates to around 2650 BCE and is part of the necropolis, or cemetery.

Apart from the Great Sphinx of Giza, the temple complex of Karnak is also one of the most impressive sites in all of Egypt and it’s the largest religious compound ever built by man. There is also the Nubian pyramids, that were built from the fourth century B.C. to third century A.D by the rulers of the ancient Kushite kingdoms.

East Africans following their trade with India during the Middle Ages also became rich enough to build stone palaces, city walls, mosques and churches. Ethiopian and Sudanese often cut their churches out of the living rock instead of quarrying stone.

By around 1200 AD, as trading increased, people in South Africa became rich to build in stone at Mapungubwe and Thulamela (in modern South Africa) and Great Zimbabwe.

Of the buildings of the continent south of the Sahara, the ruins of Great Zimbabwe are one of the best known. It is believed that the Great Zimbabwe ruins hold the key to the mystery of the lost civilization of ancient Africa. Built by Shona cattlemen, the site covers about 720 hectares with its huge granite walls, conical towers and fortresses.

In West Africa, the new cities of Oualata and then Timbuktu (in modern Mali) were mostly built out of mudbrick and at Djenne, there was a much bigger mudbrick mosque. By the late Middle Ages, Mansa Musa in Mali had brought home a Spanish architect to build baked brick buildings.


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