Africa is a continent mostly known for famine, war and abject poverty in modern times. However, most people don’t realise that the continent is also vast and varied in culture and history and we should be thankful to the people of the continent for all it has given to the modern world. Africa is the home of incredible people, animals, climates, and spectacular landscapes. Beautiful crafts and exquisite art are an inherent part of its history – in fact, some of which are only found in this part of the world. Here are some fascinating facts you did not know about Africa but should know.
- The continent dates back to 3300BC and is where the first human beings appeared on earth in the world’s first great civilisation, Egypt. The oldest skeletal remains of anatomically modern humans (or homo sapiens sapiens) were excavated at sites in East Africa. Human remains were discovered at Omo in Ethiopia that were dated at 195,000 years old. But skeletons of pre-humans which date back between 4 and 5 million years have also been found on the continent. So be proud – you’re all African!
- Glass and, in particular, glass windows are not a modern invention! There is evidence to suggest that glass existed in mediaeval Sudan. Archaeologists found remnants of window glass in the Sudanese cities of Old Dongola and Hambukol.
- Africans gave the world Maths over 25,000 years ago. In the Ishango region of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire, the Ishango bone tool handle was found with notches carved into it. The tool was originally thought to have been over 8,000 years old, but a more sensitive recent dating has given dates of 25,000 years old. On the tool are 3 rows of notches. Row 1 shows three notches carved next to six, four carved next to eight, ten carved next to two fives and finally a seven. The 3 and 6, 4 and 8, and 10 and 5, representing the process of doubling. Row 2 shows eleven notches carved next to twenty-one notches, and nineteen notches carved next to nine notches. This represents 10 + 1, 20 + 1, 20 – 1 and 10 – 1. Finally, Row 3 shows eleven notches, thirteen notches, seventeen notches and nineteen notches. 11, 13, 17 and 19 are the prime numbers between 10 and 20. A basic maths tool which sounds far more advanced than the abacus!
photo credit: Recruitment Africa