When it comes to ancient civilizations, many people most likely think of four major civilizations, such as Chinese civilization and ancient Egyptian civilization. When it comes to ancient empires, many people often think of Qin Dynasty, Han Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, or various empires such as Roman Empire and Ottoman Empire, but few associate them with Africa. Africa also has a long history, you know, Egypt belongs to Africa, but many don't know it. From mysterious civilizations with incredible works of art to kingdoms with far-reaching trade routes, in this article, Jerry brings you 10 lost African empires you never knew existed.1. Earth Bont
Bonti is one of most mysterious ancient civilizations in Africa, which arose around 2500 BC. e. The Egyptians at some point identified Punt as their place of origin, calling it "land of gods" and admiring its rich resources, including ebony, gold, myrrh, plants, and exotic animals. Some scientists place Bonte on coast of Red Sea in East Africa, others place it on Arabian Peninsula and Levant. Meanwhile, some encyclopedias of ancient history refer to modern Somalia as Bont. However, there is still no conclusion about exact location of Bonte, people use inscriptions of Ancient Egypt and handicrafts left by Bonte to prove the existence of this civilization.2. Nok culture
One of earliest known societies in West Africa, Nok culture existed in what is now Nigeria around 500 BC. e. Knock in second century AD is known for its unique terracotta sculptures of human heads and figures, which have been excavated over a vast area of 78,000 square kilometers. They also had impressive early iron-making skills, and archaeologists have found evidence of iron in area. In village of Taruga, thirteen iron stoves dating back to 4th century BC, as well as iron tools and weapons, were discovered.3. Ava
The medieval Nubian kingdom of Ava (also known as Arodia) was located in central and southern Sudan. Of three medieval Nubian kingdoms that existed, Ava is least explored, with only its capital, Soba, being extensively excavated from many known sites associated with empire. The empire covered an area of about 2.6 square kilometers, and researchers claim that they had sprawling houses, churches filled with gold and gardens. Archaeologists suggest that its capital may have been a very wealthy urban center with a population of 30,000. They prospered for almost 1000 years until they were replaced by Islam in 16th century. The most prosperous period of Nubian civilization was kingdom of Kush, which dates back to about 800 BC. to 320 AD At this time, Nubians from Kush tribe once ruled all of Nubia and Upper and Lower Egypt.4. Aksum
The ancient East African kingdom of Aksum, also known as Aksumite Empire, was founded around 80 BC. e. In what is now northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. However, little is known about its origin. This kingdom existed approximately between 1st and 8th centuries AD. It is believed that Aksumite kingdom stretched from Red Sea to highlands of Ethiopia. This powerful and prosperous kingdom had trade links with Egypt, Persia, Arabia, Romans, Byzantines, Ceylon and India. Huge monolithic obelisks, royal tombs and ruins of palaces that remained in Aksum testify to material wealth and architectural abilities of Aksumites.
The most notable structure is massive obelisk located in and around city of Aksum. Carved from a single piece of granite, these obelisks resemble multi-storey palaces. They have beautifully carved false doors, windows, columns and beams. The largest obelisk rises to a height of more than 23 meters. But largest (and largest in world) over 33 meters long collapsed into fragments.5. Benin
The origin of Kingdom of Benin began in 10th century, when people of Benin cleared settlements in rainforests of West Africa in what is now Nigeria. Initially, they lived in small family groups and eventually they united to form a kingdom called Igor Domigordo. In 12th century, leader Igo Domi Gordo lost power, so people of Benin had to seek help from nearby societies, and Aiba Sinwin began to send help to people and became first king in Benin. The Kingdom of Benin reached its peak in 15th century and was of great size and power. Trade in gold, ivory and pepper was developed. The Kingdom of Benin was also famous for its sculptures and other works of art. The darkest side of Kingdom of Benin was its involvement in slave trade in West Africa. From end of 19th century, strength of empire declined and royal family began to fight for throne. In 1897, Benin was captured by British, and even capital was burned down.6. Zimbabwe
A row of stone tool sites in present-day Neanda in central Zimbabwe is former capital of fallen Kingdom of Zimbabwe, a Bantu-speaking Shona empire that dominated southern Africa during Late Iron Age. The city was first settled in 11th century and flourished between 13th and 15th centuries, reaching a peak population of 20,000. At its height during this time, kingdom ruled parts of Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Archaeologists have even found pottery and other artifacts there. Zimbabwe once had a significant trade, and despite society's apparent wealth, cattle and precious metals, kingdom slowly fell into decline without knowing exactly why. But this may be due to competition with other kingdoms caused by nearby gold mines.7. Mapungubwe
One of kingdoms that eventually led to creation of Kingdom of Zimbabwe was Mapungubwe. The city of Mapungubwe is located in south of Great Zimbabwe, along borders of modern South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Mapungubwe was once center of South, main trading center of African subcontinent. Mapungubwe in 13th and 14th centuries was famous for its gold and had trade relations with Egypt, India and China. A settlement left from this civilization was discovered in 1932, but until 1994 news of it does not seem to have spread. This may be to avoid being disturbed by European colonists.8. Kingdom of the Congo
From 14th to 19th century, Kingdom of Congo was an independent state that occupied territory on west coast of Central Africa, which now includes modern Angola and part of Democratic Republic of Congo. Although its origins are somewhat obscure, civilization was extremely successful, numbering around 2 million people at its peak. The number of Portuguese traders in 15th century greatly increased economy of Congo, capitalizing on copper, ivory, salt, oxhides, and slave trade in region. But friendly relations between Europe and Congo were short-lived: Kingdom of Congo collapsed in early 18th century, and at end of 19th century it was even divided by European colonists.9. Mali Empire
In 1240, a Malinca prince named Sundiata founded Mali Empire in West Africa. Through Sundiata's policies, including a centralized government, well-trained military personnel, and foreign policy, it eventually became largest kingdom in Africa. In 14th century, Mali Empire gained further power under Mansa Musa I, who greatly expanded territory, wealth and culture of country. The Mali Empire collapsed around 1460s when discovery of new trade routes and competition from other kingdoms played a major role in its decline.10. Songhai Empire
In late 14th century, during fall of kingdom of Mali, Songhai Empire rose to power and eventually captured Sunni warlord Ali Bo of Timbuktu, largest city in region, who became first king of Songhai. . From there, Songhai Empire expanded, taking over more major cities and controlling various trade routes across Sahara. In 1590, Morocco sent an army of 4,000 men to invade, in March 1591 they defeated Song fleet, which had about 40,000 men, but with outdated weapons, and finally occupied Gao, Timbuktu and other places, and the Songhai empire collapsed.