APWH Chapter 3: Early African Societies and the Bantu Migrations By Robert Courtadon Agriculture of Ancient Egypt and its results • The Nile river floods annually, leaving fertile muck to use for growing crops. • The fertile muck allowed Egypt to prosper more then it’s neighbor, Nubia, because of its broader floodplains. • Thanks to various peoples who travelled throughout the region, wild grains, cattle, donkeys, wheat and barley were raised and cultivated as well in the Nile River Valley. • High agriculture meant an increased population, which meant some people had to move to higher ground due to population pressure. Evolution of the Institution of the Pharaoh • In early agricultural societies in the Nile River Valley, kings created small states for themselves, and had servants executed when they died. • Political and economical competition between Upper and Lower Egypt kingdoms led to small skirmishes and wars between the states. • About 3100 B.C.E, Menes, a minor official from Upper Egypt, rose to power and conquered much of Lower Egypt. He united Upper and Lower Egypt under the institution of the pharaoh. • Pharaonic power was greatest during the Archaic Period and the Old Kingdom, and was probably least during the New Kingdom. Periods of Egyptian Rule • Archaic Period/Old Kingdom ( 3100 – 2660 BCE) – Power of the pharaohs was greatest. The symbols of Egypt - the pyramids - were built using artists, craftsmen, architects, and engineers. • Middle Kingdom ( 2040 – 1640 BCE) – Regions began to ignore the pharaoh and build up their wealth. As a result, the central state declined, which led to a long season of political and social unrest. The Pharaohs that later reestablished order in the empire were not as powerful as their predecessors, but they established relations with Nubia, Syria, and South Africa. • New Kingdom ( 1550 – 1070 BCE) – After the gradual decline of the invading Hyksos, nomads who used chariots and bronze weapons in combat , Egypt began to take over countries that might have been future threats funded by a large administrative bureaucracy. However, resistance in the countries Egypt gained weakened the empire so that it could not defend against various foreign countries that took it over; including the Kushites and the Assyrians. Social classes and gender roles in Egypt and Nubia • In a strictly patriarchal society, men were rulers of the household and government in both Egypt and Nubia. • However, women made their presence known more in Egypt and Nubia as priestesses, scribes, regents for young rulers, and as queens (more in Nubia than in Egypt). • Egyptians also recognized a series of social classes, ranging from the working slaves to the supreme ruler – the pharaoh. • Egypt relied on military forces and a bureaucracy of tax collectors and administrators. • Tombs of the wealthy were elaborate, while those of commoners were much simpler. Transportation and Trade in the Nile River Valley • In Egypt, donkey caravans, boats, and wheeled vehicles carried passengers and goods to places. • In Nubia, people depended more on overland transport to get to places. • Trade in the Nile River Valley consisted of iron and bronze metallurgy, pottery, textile products, gem stones, ostrich feathers, slaves, ivory, and more. Development of Organized Religions • Amon and Re – Two principal sun gods of Ancient Egypt that were worshiped together in the cult of Amon-Re, in which the said god was suggested to be a universal god. • Aten and Monotheism – Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) started a new religion based on Aten, the “one, true god” of Egypt. While Akhenaten lived, the cult flourished. When he died, the cult was destroyed by the rival Amon-Re cult. • Mummification – Egyptians believed in an afterlife. During the Old Kingdom, only pharaohs, their relatives, and royal officials were mummified. During the Middle Kingdom, however, all people were mummified. • Cult of Osiris – Egyptians associated the god Osiris with their crops, the Nile, and immortality. Osiris alone had the power to grant eternal life. Those with pure hearts were granted immortality, while those with impure hearts didn’t. The Bantu Migrations • The Bantu were the most influential people in sub – Saharan Africa, settling along banks of rivers in villages with chiefs at the head of clans. • The Bantu migrations were gradual processes. Canoes were used in travelling the Niger, Congo, and other river networks. Languages also travelled with the Bantu, creating more than 500 different languages. This process increased with iron metallurgy and agricultural surpluses.