Ancient African Structures

Ancient African structures were important for housing, temples, palaces, and monuments. Ancient African structures were built in a variety of styles depending on the building materials that were available.

The earliest known ancient African structure is believed to be 75,000 years old. The monolithic stone structure is circular and resides in South Africa.

Impressive ancient African structures not only exist in Egypt but all over the continent. Many structures from yester year could not withstand the brutal climate of continent.


Materials used for ancient African structures

The first ancient African structures were carved from stone. These ancient African structures were carved directly into mountain sides and from existing caves.

Ancient African structures were also constructed with basic materials like wood and animal skins. This type of structures could not withstand the test of nature and the climate.

Over time ancient African structures were built with a waddle and daub technique. Waddle and daub technique was used by numerous ancient societies.

The technique uses a framework of intertwined sticks which were then covered with mud to help keep the elements at bay.

Nubian pyramids at Meroe

Mudbricks were also used for many ancient African structures. Mudbricks are made by combining straw or plant materials with mud and then drying the mudbricks under the sun.

Examples of ancient African structures

A superb example of mudbrick construction outside of Egypt is the city of Kerma which flourished in 2400 B.C.E. in present day Sudan. Other intriguing mud-based structures exist in Djenne next to the Niger River in Mali.

In Lalibela in present day Ethiopia, there are eleven churches carved from stone. The stone structures were carved from volcanic tuff rock.

The churches provide an excellent look at the craftsmanship used to carve large structures out of a mountain of stone.

A perfect example of a monolithic stone structure is at Mpumalanga, South Africa. The circular structure was constructed by piling stones on top of each other.

Another example of an ancient mud city in Africa is in Morocco at the site of El Hedim in Meknes.

In the western region of the continent near present-day Ghana, you can view the impressive stone cut structures at Tichitt Walata.

Image of traditional Ashanti house

The settlement is believed to be the oldest surviving collection of stone structures.

Yet another interesting place full of ancient African structures is the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe where there are structures made of giant granite stonewalls.

These stonewalls were built using a technique called dry stonewalling. The technique involves placing stones on top of each other in a unified way. There is no mortar used in dry stonewalling structures.

Architectural styles

Ancient African structures were influenced by many outsiders to the continent. In northern portion of the continent like present day Morocco you will find Islamic influence.

In Tunisia you will find Roman style architecture at Carthage which flourished as a city in 900 B.C.E.

In Sudan the style of structures has more Egyptian features and 200 pyramids in the ancient city of Meroe. In southern Africa the primary style of architecture is dome shaped huts.

Monumental ancient African structures

There hundreds of monumental ancient African structures besides the famous pyramids of ancient Egypt.

In the ancient city of Aksum in present-day Ethiopia there are giant obelisks cut from stone.

Researchers have also uncovered numerous pyramids in Nubia also known as Kush is present-day Sudan.

Important facts about ancient African structures

  • The first ancient African structures were constructed of wood and animal hides.
  • Ancient African structures were constructed with mudbricks.
  • Waddle and daub is a building technique that involves intertwining sticks with an outer layer of mud.
  • There have been more than 200 pyramids found in Nubia within present-day Sudan.
  • Many ancient African structures were carved stone along a mountain side.
  • There are numerous stone cut obelisks located at Aksum.
  • Tichitt Walata is believed to be the oldest collection of stone structures in the western region of Africa.
  • Dry stonewalling is a building technique that does not involve using mortar.


  1. What materials were used for the earliest ancient African structures?

Wood and animal skins

  1. An ancient construction technique that involves intertwining sticks with an outer layer of mud is called?

Waddle and daub

  1. Which ancient African city contains eleven churches carved from volcanic tuff stone?


  1. Dry stonewalling structures have been found where?

Great Zimbabwe