Africa is now known as the cradle of mankind. In no other part of the world can human history be traced back so deeply into the past with the help of numerous finds of human remains and tools: to the transition from the Tertiary to the Quaternary. Dating using the potassium-argon (potassium-argon) method has shown that people have been around in large parts of Africa for more than 2 million years. Fund layers from the Omo (Ethiopia), from the Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) and from Oued Mékerra (Algeria) have been dated to 2–2.5 million years.
Paleolithic: Characteristic for this earliest epoch of the Paleolithic (Kafu and Olduva culture) are »rubble tools« (English pebble tools) with sharp edges, which were made from pebbles. Their considerable variety of shapes suggests various functions. The carriers of this culture were Australopithecus species (Australopithecines).
The first traces of a more developed stone processing appeared 1.5 million years ago. This epoch largely corresponds to the European Acheuléen (with the Abbevillien as the oldest stage) and is also designated. With the exception of the rainforest zone and the Congo Basin, the Acheuleans occurred all over the continent and persisted in some regions up to 100,000 years ago. Typical of the Acheuléen are, in addition to the hand ax, slightly trapezoidal, ax-like blades (“cleavers”), round disks (“diskoids”), spherical throwing stones and 8-shaped artifacts, some of which are of considerable size. Finds in the Olduvai gorge show Pithecanthropus species, i.e. archanthropins, as carriers of the Acheuléen.
The Pleistocene beach lines in northern Africa allow the cultural epochs to be synchronized with the European Ice Age chronology, although certain phase shifts are to be expected. The ice ages in Europe correspond to cope with wetlands in subtropical Africa, which made it possible to colonize today’s arid regions. A distinction is made between four cope with one another in East Africa: 1) Kagera, 2) Kamasia, 3) Kanjera and 4) Gamble cope. The interglacials, combined with reforestation in Europe, meant dry seasons for Africa, during which the sea level rose as a result of the ice melt. Possibly during the Riss Ice Age (Kanjerapluvial) Acheulean groups penetrated into Western Europe via a land connection between North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula (lowering of the sea level). The carriers of the Acheuléen preferred sea coasts, shores of inland lakes and wooded river valleys as settlement areas. In the east of Central Africa in particular, various phases of development of the Acheuléen can be traced seamlessly (Olduvai, Olorgesailie, Kalambo Falls, etc.). The most important sites in South Africa are on Vaal and in the Cape (Stellenbosch).
At least partly due to the dry phase of the last interpluvial, the previously uniform African basic culture of the Acheuléen splintered into different cultural groups. While influences from the Near East are noticeable in the northern part of the continent, Sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing an independent development for which a separate periodic table has been defined. The Paleolithic, including the Acheulean, is sometimes referred to as the Early (or Earlier) Stone Age (ESA). This is followed by Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Late (or Later) Stone Age (LSA).
From the Acheuleans, the Sango culture (Sangoen) developed in southern Africa, which is believed to have existed between 100,000 and 80,000 BC. Begins and up to 40,000 BC. Lasts. It seems to have been mainly woodland crops in which hunting played a major role. Some finds (roots, fruits, remains of grave sticks) also point to the importance of vegetable food. The Sango culture represents a transition phase from the Acheuléen to the Middle Stone Age. The Fauresmith culture, formerly also assigned to this phase as a special steppe and highland form, is now regarded as the Endacheuléen. Check countryaah for all countries list of Africa.
The cultural groups of the Middle Stone Age, around the same time as the Gamblepluvial, continue the traditions of the Acheulean and Sango cultures and develop them further. The earliest dates for the Middle Stone Age so far are 38,000–36,000 BC. There is an increasing number of tools that were shanked as ax blades (“core axes”) or lance tips. A tendency towards the downsizing of the tools can be seen throughout. The most important cultures are the Lupembien, the Stillbay culture and the Pietersburg culture. The bearers of the early Middle Stone Age were people of the Neanderthal type, while the “modern” people, Homo sapiens sapiens, appeared in the later epochs.
Magosia, around 10,000–6,000 BC. BC, a transition phase from the Middle Stone Age to the Late Stone Age, falls in the dry season between the gamble pluvial and the post-glacial Makalia wet phase. It continues the tradition of the still bay culture. Microlithic tools are increasingly being used. This phase is also likely to include the »Kenya Capsia«, the origin of which is still unknown, but which is typologically similar to the North African Capsia. The finds of the Late Stone Age, from around 8000 BC. Chr., Are characterized by a further reduction in the size of the artifacts (microliths), combined with a regional differentiation. Important cultures are the Smithfield, Wilton, Nachikoufou and Tshitolien. The rock paintings in Sub-Saharan Africa occur mainly in the Late Stone Age.
In northern Africa, the Acheuléen is followed by the moustéroide Atérien (around 40,000-25,000 BC) after a long period of settlement. A mussérien in the strict sense of the word is only weakly represented. At the same time, the dabba culture occurs in eastern North Africa (Cyrenaica). It goes back to the 12th millennium BC. Chr. And is immediately replaced by Epipalaeolithic (endolithic) cultures , which represent a transition phase to the Neolithic. The most important Epipalaeolithic cultures, Ibéromaurusia and Capsia, probably go back to influences from the Near East. The Neolithic Age sets in the southern and central Sahara in the 7th millennium BC. A (Sahara-Sudan-Neolithic), in North Africa only from the 5th millennium, whereby features of the Capsia are initially retained (Neolithic with Capsia tradition). In addition to the further development of stone processing technology, the appearance of ceramics and the beginning of animal husbandry and soil construction are characteristic of the Neolithic.
There are only traces of a Bronze Age in the Maghreb (rock art in the High Atlas) and in Mauritania. Incidentally, the Neolithic was immediately followed by the Iron Age, the beginning and extent of which is still largely unclear.