For the most part, our history textbooks here in the States love to portray Africa as an uncivilized continent. In schools, we learn about the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial revolution, and countless other ‘revolutions’ that all have one thing in common: they originated in Europe. Growing up and constantly hearing of European accomplishments and learning about history from a Eurocentric perspective, it’s not hard to see why there are still people who seem to think that everything great derived from Europe. Spoiler Alert: African history existed before slavery despite what textbook publishers want you to believe. Here are ten inventions that originated from Africa and have changed the entire course of human history.
Contrary to popular belief, civilizations existed before Europeans ‘discovered’ them *gasp*. Ancient black Egyptians created the earliest numeric system on record, and they were also the first civilization to create and solve arithmetic equations.
No, neanderthals were not the first species to create art. In fact, the oldest known artwork in human history was discovered in Blombos Cave in South Africa. It consisted of two pieces of engraved ochre depicting abstract designs and symbols.
According to Dr. Clyde Winters in his book The Ancient Black Civilizations of Asia, the oldest known form of writing developed between 5000 and 3000 B.C. in sub-Saharan Africa. This writing system has come to be known as Proto-Saharan.
Yup, our stone-age ancestors in sub-saharan Africa were the first human species to develop a language system. A recent scientific study found that every language in the world can be traced to the dialect spoken by our African ancestors over 100,000 years ago.
Although all civilizations had discovered how to use some form of medicine, ancient black Egyptians invented a concrete system of medicine that involved schooling for practitioners and written documentation of the methods of healing used. And let’s not forget that ancient Egyptians were also the first civilization to perform surgery.
6. Mining and Metallurgy
The industrial ‘revolution’ would have never happened had it not been for Africans smelting iron over 2,500 years ago. Ancient Tanzanians had been producing carbon steel long before Britain industrialized metallurgy.
Despite the disturbing movement to prove that aliens were in fact behind the architecture of Egypt’s great pyramids (is it really that hard to believe that black people can create architectural masterpieces??), some of the world’s greatest and oldest architectural masterpieces are in Africa. The Pyramids of Giza, the Step Pyramid, the city of Great ZImbabwe, the Nubian Pyramids- all of these iconic sites are proof of the highly advanced system of architecture and engineering that ancient Africans developed.
If you own a phone, chances are that it is made out of minerals deriving from Africa- specifically the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is a mineral found in DRC that is used to make rechargeable batteries. The DRC is one of the richest countries in the world in regards to natural resources, and everything from copper and cobalt to diamonds and tin are found there.
9. The Calendar
Ancient Egyptians invented the earliest calendar system over 5,000 years ago. And the way that we divide our days into hours and then minutes? That is also because of Egyptians.
This one’s pretty obvious considering how many flavorful and seasoned dishes come from the motherland. Ash that was found in a South African cave has led archaeologists to conclude that our ancestors were cooking with fire one million years ago.