Ancient African Artifacts

Africa has long been known as the cradle of civilization. Ancient African artifacts have been found in all regions of the continent.

Ancient African artifacts allow researchers to piece together ancient African societies.

Artifacts help people understand the various forms of technology, inventions, culture, and history of ancient African societies.
Two Bambara Chiwara c

Ancient African artifacts come in all shapes and forms including rock art, artwork, fossils, weapons, structures, and pottery such as vases.

Unfortunately because of the harsh climate and billions of termites that live in Africa, many of the ancient African artifacts do not exist anymore.

Rock Art

Rock art is the number one ancient African artifact to be found on the continent. Archeologists have recorded more than 14,000 rock art sites across the continent.

The oldest rock art site that has been documented is roughly 27,000 years old.Rock art has two major forms which are pictographs and petroglyphs.
Rock Art

Pictographs are also known as rock paintings. Rock paintings appear in geologic areas of granite and sandstone rocks that form caves, outcroppings and sheltered areas.

Ancient Africans used their fingers, sticks and brushes made from animal fur to create pictographs.

Plant dyes like red ochre were commonly used to create pictographs. Other substances like charcoal and ash were also used as painting material.

Petroglyphs are rock engravings and appear in geologic areas with igneous rocks like dolerite. Ancient Africans would use other rocks or bones to carve an image into the dolerite or similar rock.

Ancient African Pottery

Ancient African artifacts include various forms of pottery. All ancient societies around the world needed pottery to store food and water.

Pottery was also used for daily life as plates, cups, cooking pots, and for ceremonies. Archeologists have found thousands of sherds of pottery around the continent.

The sherds help researchers understand the type of technology used by ancient Africans to make pottery.
Queen Mother Pendant Mask
Ancient African vases and sculptures have been found made of bronze and clay. The oldest known ancient African sculptures are terracotta figures.

They were found in Nigeria and were created by the Nok Tribe around 500 B.C.E. The best preserved ancient African bronze pottery was found near Lake Chad and dates to 600 B.C.E.

Ancient African Tools

Another form of ancient African artifacts is tools. Studying ancient African tools allow people to understand how ancient societies advanced with technology.

Common tools were used for everything from hunting and skinning animals to building structures and temples to herding cattle and planting crops.

Ancient African tools were made from stone or bone which has withstood the harsh climate of the continent. Ceremonial tools were made from ivory.

As technology advanced in ancient societies iron and bronze would replace stone, ivory and bone tools.

Where do archeologists find ancient African artifacts?

Archeologists have discovered ancient African artifacts in thousands of places on the continent.

They have unearthed various burial sites which are loaded with ancient African artifacts from pottery to jewelry to tools. Many of the sites excavated by archeologists were used for ceremonial purposes.

Other sites found deal with everyday life of ancient Africans such as dwellings and structures.

Important facts about ancient African artifacts

  • Ancient African artifacts help archeologists understand ancient African societies.
  • Rock art is the oldest form of ancient African artifacts.
  • The oldest rock art found in Africa is around 27,000 years old.
  • Rock paintings are known as pictographs.
  • Sherds of bronze pottery created by the Sao Tribe near Lake Chad around 600 B.C.E. have been found.
  • Terracotta figures made by the Nok Tribe in Nigeria date to 500 B.C.E.
  • Ancient African artifacts like tools were made from stone, bone and ivory.
  • Burial sites are the most common place that archeologists find ancient African artifacts.


  • What is the oldest type of ancient African artifacts to be found?

Rock art

  • Where is the most commonplace for archeologists to find ancient African artifacts?

Burial sites

  • What type of ancient African artifact help researchers to understand the advancement of technology in ancient society?


  •  What tribe was reasonable for creating bronze pottery around 600 B.C.E.?