Palaeolithic Africa

3,300,000 BCE: The world's earliest stone tools, Kenya & Ethiopia

2,100,000 BCE: Tanzanian stone tools

250, 000 BCE: Numerous stone artifacts in Nubia and Egypt

Post- Paleolithic Africa in Southern, Eastern, Western and Central Africa.

150,000 BCE to 100,000 BCE

Shell jewelry, cosmetics and inscriptions found in Blombos Cave, South Africa. Excavated by Henshilwood et. al. 2004.


Baboon fibula with 29 parallel notches, Border Cave, South Africa.


Decorated ostrich egg shells found in Namibia, in Southern Africa.

26,000 BCE

Painted stone slabs, Namibia.

13,000BCE - 10,000BCE

Domestication of wild grasses in the Ethiopian-Nubian complex. (Ehret, 2002)

9400BCE (about 11, 400 years ago)

Africas oldest pottery at Ounjougou, Mali, West Africa, excavated by Swiss archeologist Huysecom et. al., 2007.

6000BCE (about 8,000 years ago)

Africas oldest boat at Dufuna, Nigeria.


Domestication of Ethiopian barley and wheat, pre-Aksumite Ethiopia

7000-5000 BCE:

Wavy line pottery across the Sahara/Sahelian region in latitudes associated with pre-dynastic Ghana, Mali and the Nubian-Egyptian complex.

Politics and Society in East and West Africa


Ta-Seti, regarded by some scholars as the first Nubian Kingdom and associated with the A group artifacts; Note the political symbolism on an incense burner found at Qustul, and stone lined graves of twelve Nubian pharaohs (Curator Bruce Williams).


Evidence of beer making,braided hair attachments and writing in Egypt.

3100 BCE

Unification of Egypt from rival kingdoms and city states along Africa and the world?s longest river system, the Nile.

2686 BCE - 2125

BCE Old Kingdom, Egypt

circa 3000 BCE to 1000 BCE

Kerma, Nubia's second major kingdom after Ta-Seti, according to some scholars. Round tombs and thin walled pots.

Circa 1500 BCE to 1000 BCE

Period of Egyptian occupation of Kerma in retaliation for Kermas collaboration with the Asiatic Hyksos.

circa 1000 - 800BCE

The Rise of Napata, the third major Nubian Kingdom after Ta-Seti and Kerma.

747 BCE

Napata conquest of Egypt.

circa 900 BCE

Disputed emergence of the Queen of Ethiopia and Sheba.

600 BCE to 1400 CE

Nubian Christianity prevails in the Kingdoms of Alwa and others until Arab conquest circa 1400.

300BCE to 1640CE

The emergence of the empires of Ghana (Wagadu), Mali and Songhai, in northern West Africa. Note Moroccan and French conquest of Ghana and Songhai respectively.

circa 1000 CE to 1900 CE

Kingdom of Nri, Igboland, Eastern Nigeria- the source of the Igbo-Ukwu artifacts; The Benin Empire, The Oyo Empire and the Empire of Kanem-Bornu (Nigeria). The Asante Empire (Ghana), the Mossi Empire(Burkina Faso); The Jolof Empire (Senegal). The dates vary for individual regions and power centers. Some of these empires were invaded and occupied by the British and the French in the late 19th century. Their treasures/ artifacts were looted and carted away to European museums, where they continue to reside. FOREIGN INVASIONS, CONQUEST & RESISTANCE


Greek conquest and occupation of Egypt by Alexander of Macedon who drives out the Persians. This leads to the era of the Ptolomies, including the Cleopatras. Accusations of discrimination by indigenous Egyptians outside of Alexandria.


Roman conquest and occupation of Egypt. Attempts to conquer Nubia.


Vandal (German) invasion of North Africa.

639 CE

Arab conquest and occupation of Egypt. Romans driven out. Major demographic changes. Settler colonialism. Ottoman Turkish incorporation by the 19th century.

1441 to 1860s

A wave of encroachments and conquests, initiated by the Portuguese in West, South and East Africa. An era of human trafficking. Dutch invasion in South Africa in the 1650s. British -Asante conflict from the early 19th century. Belgian conquest of the Congo by Leopold 11, 1860s.

1950s to 1990s

A second wave of liberation and resistance movements to regain independence, by freedom fighters such as Amilcar Cabral, Samora Machel,Eduardo Mondlane Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, Robert Mugabe, Joseph Nkomo, Sam Nujoma etc. These struggles culminated in the successes of the 1970s for Guinea Bissau, Angola and Mozambique; 1980 for Zimbabwe, 1989 for Namibia and the 1990s for South Africa.

This timeline was compiled by Professor Gloria Emeagwali, History Department, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut, USA.