Ten Stunning Yet Little Known Ancient Treasures Across Africa

Ten Stunning Yet Little Known Ancient Treasures Across Africa

(Read the article on one page)

The rich history of the ancient Nubian Kingdom of Dongola

The rich history of the ancient Nubian Kingdom of Dongola

Following the collapse of the Kingdom of Kush during the 4th century BC, a political vacuum was left in the region it controlled, now modern day Sudan and southern Egypt. This void was filled by the emergence of a number of smaller Nubian kingdoms. The most well-known of these successor states was the Kingdom of Dongola, or Makuria, which had its capital in the city of Old Dongola, located on the east bank of the Nile. The modern city of Dongola is situated 80 km (49.7 miles) downstream on the opposite side of the bank.

Whilst the Kingdom of Dongola may be the most widely known successor of the Kingdom of Kush, its origins are rather obscure. It has been suggested that during the 8th century AD, Makuria united with its northern neighbor, Nobatia, perhaps under King Merkurios, to form a single state. The site chosen to serve as the kingdom’s new capital was Old Dongola, which was originally a fortress built during the 5th century AD.

One of the most distinct features of the Kingdom of Dongola is that it was a Christian Kingdom. It is recorded that during the 6th century BC, Christianity was propagated in the Nile Valley from Aswan all the way south to the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile at modern day Khartoum. In 1993, a 900-year-old crypt was discovered in a monastery there.  In the crypt, archaeologists discovered the naturally mummified remains of seven males. On the walls of the crypt were inscriptions written in Greek and Sahidic Coptic. These inscriptions included excerpts from the four Gospels, magical names, as well as signs and a prayer given by the Virgin Mary, which were placed there to protect the occupants of the crypt from the forces of evil.

The Ancient, Fortified Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou Awaits the Return of Desert Traders

The Ancient, Fortified Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou Awaits the Return of Desert Traders

UNESCO World Heritage sites are not only renowned for their cultural and natural importance, but are often used in the film industry. At the Ksar of Ain-Ben-Haddou, numerous films have been shot, including Oliver Stone’s 2004 film, ‘Alexander’, Stephen Sommer’s ‘The Mummy’ (1999) and John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King (1975).  

The Ksar of Ain-Ben-Haddou is a fortified city located in the Ouarzazate province along the old caravan trade route between Marrakech and the Sahara. It consists of a group of buildings built entirely of local organic material, and covered by a rich red mud plaster. These buildings, which were mostly houses, were surrounded by high walls. The defensive function of the walls was reinforced by the construction of corner towers. Apart from the domestic buildings, there were also public structures, including a mosque, a caravanserai, a sanctuary of a local saint, and a public square. Thus, the collection of buildings in the Ksar is a unique showcase of the various pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques. According to local belief, the Ksar was founded in 757 A.D. by Ben-Haddou, whose tomb is said to lie somewhere behind the city.

The Ksar and other fortified towns in the area may owe their existence to the presence of the Trans-Saharan Trade Route. This route connected the North African coast, Europe, and the Levant to sub-Saharan Africa. Trade goods, including gold, salt, and African slaves passed through these routes beginning in ancient times, and reaching a peak between the 8th century A.D. and the late 16th century A.D. With such traffic along the trade route, it would be reasonable for locals to take advantage of the situation and earn a living by providing shelter, food and drink to the travelling merchants. The presence of such valuable trade goods in their towns, however, would have attracted bandits or raiding nomads. Therefore, defensive walls were necessary to ensure the safety of both the inhabitants of the city and their wealthy customers.

Laas Geel Complex and The Magnificent Ancient Rock Art of Somalia

Laas Geel Complex and The Magnificent Ancient Rock Art of Somalia

Thousands of years ago, humans from the Neolithic age, decorated the walls of rock shelters with paintings of animals and humans at a site called Laas Geel in present day Somalia.  Their work would last at least 5,000 years, and would one day attract the attention of the 21st century.  The caves provide a glimpse into the little known history of this part of the world.  Even with the history of political instability, war, natural weathering, and other factors, the paintings have survived intact, retaining their clear outlines and vibrant colors.  They are thought to be among the best and oldest preserved rock paintings in Africa.

Comments

The name "adams calender" is a cheap marketing ploy by the author of a totally nonsensical book that has no place on this Website.

Great article - lots of places I had never heard of.

However, I find the timing of the following statement highly unlikely. ;-)

"It is recorded that during the 6th century BC, Christianity was propagated in the Nile Valley from Aswan all the way south to the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile at modern day Khartoum."

I love to learn the history from the past..

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Ancient Technology

The four-handled tureen adorned with dragons, birds and spikes
Chinese archaeologists have discovered ritual tureen and “soup bowls” next to a badly decomposed body in a Zhou dynasty-era tomb. Among the remains there were also uncovered two wine vessels, which experts suggest were probably used as part of the funerary rituals.

Ancient Places

Healing Temple of Aesculapius (Asklepios) by Robert Thom
In the ancient world, many cultures built elaborate temple complexes dedicated to their healer gods - Imhotep in Egypt and Asklepios in Greece for example. These gods were recognized as having the power to cure supplicants from a variety of ailments within sleep and sacred dreams. Those who desired healing might travel many hundreds of miles to reach such a temple

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article