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Africa’s First People
Chapter 7 Section 1
Mr. Storms
Terms to know
Ethnic group
Africa’s First People
• Today the dry sands of the Sahara cover
most of North Africa.
• But until about 4,000 years ago, this large
area held enough water to support many
people and animals.
• Scientists think that Africa’s first farmers
lived there.
• Paintings on cliffs and cave walls tell their
An example
Africa’s First People
• But the history of people in Africa is even
• Several million years earlier, the
continent’s first people lived in East Africa.
• We know this because of the stones and
bones they left behind.
• These East Africans were the very first
people to live on the Earth.
• The earliest humans probably survived by
gathering wild fruits, nuts, and roots.
• These hunter-gatherers also hunted
animals for meat and clothing.
• They made tools out of wood, animal
bones, and then stone.
• The first use of stone tools marks the
beginning of a period scientists call the
Stone Age.
• These stone tools worked very well.
• The scientist Louis Leakey found some of
the first evidence of early people in East
• He also taught himself to make and use
their tools.
• Using a two-inch, 25,000 year old stone
knife, Leakey could skin and cut up a
gazelle in just 20 minutes.
Farming and Herding
• Between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago,
hunter-gatherers began to farm and to
herd animals.
• The first farmers probably planted wild
grains such as wheat, barley, sorghum,
and millet.
• At first they just protected the areas where
these grew the best. Later they began to
save seed to plant for the next year’s crop.
Farming and Herding
• Later people began to domesticate plants.
• They threw away seeds from weaker
plants and saved seeds from stronger
• People domesticated animals by breeding
certain animals together.
• Domesticating plants and animals meant
people could plant their own crops.
Farming and Herding
• They did not have to travel to places
where grains were already growing.
• As a result, they could settle in one place.
• Most people settled where the land was
fertile or productive.
• Some communities produced a food
• Surpluses allowed some people in the
community to do work other than farming.
Civilizations on the Nile
• Over hundreds of thousands of years,
some Stone Age groups became
• A civilization is a society with cities, a
government, and social classes.
• Social classes form when people do a
variety of jobs.
• As a result, some people are rich, some
are poor, and others are middle class.
Civilizations on the Nile
• Civilizations also have architecture,
writing, and art.
• One civilization arose on the Nile River
about 5,000 years ago.
• Each summer, the Nile River floods its
banks. It leaves a layer of fertile silt that is
ideal for farming.
• People began farming along the banks of
the Nile by around 4000 B.C.
• They settled in scattered villages. Over
centuries, these villages grew into the
civilization of ancient Egypt.
• Ancient Egypt was ruled by kings and
queens called pharaohs.
• The people believed the pharaohs to be
gods as well as kings.
• When pharaohs died, they were buried in
• People painted murals and picture-writings
called hieroglyphics on the walls in the
• Egyptian civilization included more than
just the pyramids.
• The Egyptians were advanced in papermaking, architecture, medicine, and
• Clip
• Starting in about 6000 B.C., several
civilizations arose south of Egypt.
• This area was called Nubia.
• The final and greatest Nubian kingdom
arose in the city of Meroe during the 500s
• It did well until about the middle of the A.
D. 300s. Meroe was probably the first
place in Africa where iron was made.
The Bantu Migrations
• By about 500 B.C., West Africans had
learned to heat and shape iron.
• They used it to form parts of tools such as
arrowheads, ax heads, and hoe blades.
• The strong iron tools made farming easier
and created food surpluses.
• As a result, West Africa’s population
The Bantu Migrations
• Around 2,000 years ago, a group of
people who spoke Bantu languages began
to migrate.
• Over hundreds of years, these Bantuspeakers settled in central and Southern
• They introduced farming, herding, and iron
tools to these regions.
The Bantu Migrations
• Today, people in this part of Africa belong
to hundreds of ethnic groups.
• But almost all of these ethnic groups
speak Bantu languages.