Timeline of Ancient Africa

Ancient Africa provided the world with some of the greatest empires and civilizations in history. Here is a comprehensive timeline of Ancient Africa.


  • 200, 000 to 55,000: Approximately around this time, early modern humans started to become recognizable in Ancient Africa. In addition, the main migration of a group of Homo sapiens that are the ancestors of most non-Africans today also began during this period.
  • 8500 to 6000: People living within the Sahara Desert Region started using pottery for their dishes and tools. Likewise, this period also witnessed the development of agriculture as people started to farm within the Nile River in Egypt.
  • 5000:Ancient Africa suffered a dry phase during this period. It dried the Sahara region which resulted in people to migrate.
  • 3500: The Sahara Desert started to spread in Africa as a result of climate change. It was also during this period that the Kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt was combined into one.
  • 3000:Hieroglyphic writing, which is considered as the earliest form of literacy in the world, was invented during this era.
  • 2950:Egypt united under Menes after he became the first Pharaoh of Egypt. It also saw the construction of the first stone in Egypt which was built by Imhotep. Initially, the first pyramid of Egypt was built in honor of King Djoser.
  • 2500:The Great Pyramids of Giza, which are recognized as one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World is constructed.
  • 2000:The Bantu people of Africa started to migrate south into southern and central Africa.
  • 1279 to 1070: Emperor Rameses II became the Pharaoh of Egypt in 12thcentury B.C.E. Other than that, this period also saw the establishment of the Nok Culture in Nigeria. By the same token, the Kingdom of Kush also gained its independence from Egypt during this period of time.
  • 814:The Phoenician Empire established the city of Carthage.
  • 715:The Kushites defeated the Egyptians and went on to rule Ancient Egypt until 6th century B.C.E.
  • 650:Carthage grew into one of the most powerful cities on the Mediterranean Sea after it gained its independence.
  • 590:The capital of Kush was moved from Napata to Meroe.
  • 550:People from the Nok civilization started to develop iron weapons and tools.
  • 525:Persia conquered Egypt.
  • 332:Alexander the Great and the Greeks overthrew the Persians to conquer Egypt.
  • 264:The Carthaginians fought the First Punic War against the Roman Republic.
  • 146:The Roman Republic defeated Carthage and destroyed the city.
  • 30:Cleopatra VII who was the last pharaoh of Egypt died. Egypt subsequently became a part of Rome

BaKongo masks from the Kongo Central region


  • 100:The Aksum Kingdom ruled in Northern Ethiopia.
  • 300:The Ghana Empire started to rise in West Africa. It went on to rule the region until 1100 C.E.
  • 325:The Aksum Kingdom reached its peak under the governance of King Ezana.
  • 709 to 711:Arab Muslims controlled North Africa. It was also during this time that the Moors of North Africa invaded and conquered the Iberian Peninsula of Europe.
  • 1100:The Kingdom of Zimbabwe was founded in Central Africa.
  • 1235: Sundiata Keita established the Empire of Mali.
  • 1300:The Kingdom of Kongo began its rise to power in Central Africa. It went on to rule the area until it was colonized by Portugal in the 1900s.
  • 1324:Mansa Musa who was the Emperor of the Mali Kingdom made his pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
  • 1464:Sunni Ali helped brought the Songhai Empire into power in Western Africa.
  • 1493:Askia Muhammad brought Islam to the Songhai Empire after he became the emperor.
  • 1500s:The slave trading began during this period. Roughly 12 million slaves were shipped to the Americas over the next four centuries.
  • 1585:The Kingdom of Luba ruled Central Africa
  • 1591:Morocco invaded the Songhai cities of Gao and Timbuktu which resulted in the Empire’s decline
  • 1610:The Mali Empire ended

Interesting Facts about Ancient Africa

  • The Nok culture flourished in Ancient Africa from 500 B.C.E. to 200 C.E.
  • Cattle herding originated in Tanzania and Kenya between 2000 B.C.E. and 1000 B.C.E.
  • The Songhai Empire is one of the longest-lasting kingdoms of Ancient Africa. It lasted for 800 years.
  • The Kush Kingdom had two capital cities specifically the city of Napata and Meroe.
  • The first intermediate period of Egypt occurred at around 2000 B.C.E.
  • Christianity arrived in Northern Africa in the 3rdcentury.
  • The Meriotic alphabet is an alphabetic script that was used by most Africans during 300 B.C.E. It was heavily influenced by the city of Meroe.
  • Bantu languages were utilized by people in Southeast, Southern, and Central Africa.

What is the Aksum Kingdom most famous for?

The Aksum Kingdom is widely recognized for being the first Sub-Saharan state to mint silver and gold coins.

How did Christianity start in Northern Africa?

Christianity spread in Northern Africa through the help of Christian traders. It later became the primary religion of the state after King Ezana of Aksum converted to Christianity.

Who was the first Pharaoh of Egypt?

The first Pharaoh of Egypt was King Menes.

Who established the city of Carthage?

The city of Carthage was established by the Phoenicians.