Five great archaeological wonders in Africa
1) The Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza are an ancient Egyptian necropolis consisting of three pyramids. The oldest of the Pyramids is the Pyramid of Khufu which is believed to have been completed around 2560 BC, over four and a half thousand years ago. The Khufu pyramid was the tallest manmade structure in the world for well over 3,800 years. It was long believed that the pyramids were built by thousands of slaves, but contemporary archaeological evidence seems to indicate that this was not the case. Rather, there seems to have been a system much like the feudal system, where vassals of lords had to perform obligatory work for a small period of time, implying that the pyramid builders were ordinary labourers doing small periods of contract work for their lords. The pyramids are amongst the oldest manmade monuments in the world and a testament to the greatness of ancient Egpyt.
Timbuktu is an ancient African city in Mali, founded in the 5th century AD. Timbuktu is home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Sankore, and multiple ancient madrasas. Timbuktu was an intellectual and spiritual capital of Islam in Africa, and centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa, in the 15th and 16th centuries. By the sixteenth century the great city of Timbuktu was home to 100,000 inhabitants and an important trade centre for manuscripts, gold and salt. It constituted a great centre for learning and scholarship, with a vibrant intellectual exchange between Asian and African scholars. The library in Timbuktu holds one of the most extensive collections of old manuscripts on Africa and African thought from the Renaissance period.
3) Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the countries late iron age. Construction in the city began in the 11th century AD and continued into the 15th century. At its height Great Zimbabwe could have housed up to 18,000. The most prominent surviving features of the city are its walls, some of which were up to five meters high, spanning great lengths and lasting centuries, even though they were built without mortar. During the colonial period the Rhodesian government put great pressure on archaeologists to deny that the ruins could come from buildings built by African people, as such a wondrous ancient city did not fit into the colonial constructions of African people as primitive or savage.
Lalibela is an ancient holy town in northern Ethiopia believed to have been built in the 12th century AD. Lalibela is famous for its churches, which are square buildings cut out from directly from the rock. It is claimed that each church was cut out of a single piece of rock, to symbolise spirituality and humility. Ethiopia is one of the earliest African countries to adopt Christianity, taking on the religion in the first half of the fourth century AD. Archaeologists believe that Lalibela, which is laid out in a structure mimicking the layout of Jerusalem, was built at some point after the 1187 Muslim capture of Jerusalem in order to create a ‘new Jerusalem’.
5)The Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind is an archaeological site consisting of ancient limestone caves about 50 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg. The site has produced a very large number of hominin fossils including some of the world’s oldest hominin fossils dating back some 3.5 million years. The Sterkfontein Caves at the site alone have produced more than a third of the early hominid fossils ever found. The area’s name is derived both from the number of hominin fossils found in area as well as from the idea that southern Africa is the birth place of humankind.