The continent of Africa contains many different types of environments and tribal architecture was dependent upon which environment they lived in.
Ancient African villages could be in areas that were high in vegetation, had a lot of natural resources, or be in a complete desert or dry climate.
Stone is the most durable of all of the building materials, and archeologists have located stone structures that have survived throughout the years. Other materials such as wood and reeds would rot due to weather or termites.
A majority of the ancient African villages were in rural areas and had construction built of wood, clay, and grasses. Other areas had nomadic tribes that moved from one location to another as weather patterns changed and they looked for water and food.
Nomadic tribes made their homes of tents made from animal skin and were easy to set up and take down. Those tribes and villages that lived in areas with hardwoods often constructed their buildings with these woods as well as bamboo and raffia palm.
In the semi-desert areas villages could be made of clay while others had “earth-shelters” that were partially sunken into the ground.
Early settlements in Sotho and Tswana (what is now South Africa and Botswana) were stone-walled kraals. These were pit circles lined with stone and sunken pits that held the pigmy cattle.
Other structures that were found were constructed by the Tigre of Eritrea and Sudan, and included circular and rectangular farmhouses and some of these were two-storied. In the areas of Niger some of the Tuareg built stone houses that were square.
The most well-known and lasting construction of ancient Africa are in Egypt, which reaches back 2000 years. This civilization used many types of rocks and stone to create mammoth buildings including the pyramids.
Their art and craftsmanship was more advanced than many of the civilizations. The ancient Egyptians used stone for everything from monuments to glorify their pharaohs and telling stories to burial mounds.
The earliest of ancient African construction was found to be out of solid rock. Other dwellings that have been found are what are called “wattle and daub” which are woven sticks for the frame that are covered with mud.
As time passed some villages started making mudbricks which they combined with straw and mud and pressed into bricks for building. The mudbricks let the builders make larger buildings, however, they didn’t stand up to weather or wind erosion.
One example of mudbrick construction that did remain is in modern-day Sudan. It was called the ancient city of Kerma and the site is from around 2400 BCE. It remains one of the largest archeological Nubian sites.
What is the most well-known ancient African architecture?
What did the nomadic tribes of ancient Africa make their dwellings from?
tents made from animal skin and were easy to set up and take down
What architecture is used as a national symbol?
The Great Zimbabwe
What are mud bricks made of?
grasses or straw and mud
Why don’t we see most of the ancient African architecture?
the structures didn’t stand up to environmental decay or termites
What two factors determined the type of structures that each ancient African area constructed?
the environment and resources available