Clyde A. Winters

Much of what we call African civilization developed in Africa during the African Aqualithic. During this period in the Fertile African Crescent these folk have left beautiful drawings which illustrate their way of life in Tassilli n'Ajjer, and the northern foothills of the Hoggar massif.

During the African Aqualithic, there was higher rainfall in Africa which made the rivers longer and more permanent. This caused rivers to swell and burst over there basins. The people used wavy line pottery. They also invented agriculture and domesticated many animals.


Agriculture has long been practiced in Nubia. The most ancient grasses collected in Africa were found in Nubia. Here barley and sorghum was collected. As early as 17,000 B.C., barley was being cultivated at Tushka. These farmers were probably the Anu.

One of the most ancient sites for agricultural domestication in Nubia or the Central Sudan, was discovered at Es Shaheinab dating to 4000 B.C. Here riverine folk bred goats and sheep. They also engaged in fishing and collected grasses.

Kadero is another ancient site of agriculture in Sudan. Here as early as 3310 B.C., sorghum and millet were being cultivated/ collected.

Other African grasses domesticated outside of the Nile area include guinea corn, bulrush millet and fonio. The earliest evidence of bulrush millet dates to 1200 B.C., and comes from Mauritania. By 3000 B.C. rice was being cultivated.

Formerly it was believed that the Niger Valley was a center of plant domestication. The earliest northwest African sites for agriculture include Dar Tichitt Daima ,Kurrasakata and Karkarchinkat which date to around 2000 B.C. Today archaeological research indicates that much of the Niger area was thick forest until quite recently. (Winters 1986) It would appear that the present inhabitants of West Africa came from the North and the Nile Valley.

The Egyptian term for cultivation is 0 b j(w) #. Egyptian 0 b j(w) # corresponds to many African terms for cultivation: Galla baji 'cultivated field'

Tulu (Dravidian language) bey, benni

Nubian ba, bat 'hoe up ground'

Malinke be

Somali beer

Wolof mbey, ambey, bey

Egyptian b j(w)

Sumerian buru, bur 'to root up'

These terms for cultivate suggest that the Paleo-African term for cultivate was *be.

The Paleo-Africans used the hoe to cultivate their crops. The Egyptian terms for hoe are 0 hbs # and 0 wb #, which mean 'to open up' in Egyptian. These Egyptian terms are analogous to Black

African and Dravidian terms for hoe:

Tamil (a Dravidian language) parai

Nubia bat

Malinke daba

Egyptian per 'to plough'

Hausa fartanya

Kannanda (a Dravidian lang.) pare

Swahili palile

Egyptian hbs

Galla buqis 'root up '

Sumerian buru 'to root up'

It would appear that contrast exist between b and (f)_______p.

This indicates that in Paleo-African that b < p. The Paleo- African term for hoe was probably *ba(r)/pa(r).

The Paleo-Africans also possessed other terms for hoe:

Malayalam (a Dravidian lang.) kuntali

Tamil kuntali 'pickaxe'

Nubian Kadid

Wolof konko

Malinke kope, daba

Galla doma

Hausa garma

Kpelle kali

This evidence suggest that t > d. The phonological contrast between t =/= d, highlight the alternation patterns of many Paleo-African consonants including b =/= p, l =/= r ,and g =/= k.

The Egyptian term for grain is 0 sa #. This corresponds to many African terms for seed,grain:

Galla senyi

Malinke se , si

Sumerian se

Egyptian sen 'granary'

Kannanda cigur

Bozo sii

Bambara sii

Daba sisin

Somali sinni

Loma sii

Susu sansi

Oromo sanyi

Dime siimu

Egyptian ssr 'corn'

id. ssn 'lotus plant'

id. sm 'herb, plant'

id. isw 'weeds'

The identification of a s>0/#_________e pattern for 'seed,grain' in the above languages suggest that these groups were familiar with seeds at the time they separated into distinct Supersets. The fact that Sumerian 0 se # and Egyptian 0 sen #, and Malinke 0 se # are all separated both in time and geographical area highlight the early use of seeds * se , by Paleo-Africans.


As early as 15,000 years ago cattle were domesticated in Kenya. In the Sahara-Nile complex, people domesticated many animals including the pack ass, and a small screw horned goat which was common from Algeria to Nubia.

The zebu or humped cattle are found in many parts of Africa.The oldest faunal remains of the Bos Indicus come from Kenya, and date to the first millennium B.C.

The recent evidence that Bos Indicus , humped cattle, may have originated in East Africa suggest that this type of cattle may have first been situated in Africa, and then taken to Asia by the Proto-Saharans. This view is supported by the fact that the advent of the Bos Indicus, cattle in Egypt corresponds to the migration of the C-Group people into the Nile Valley.

The C-Group people came from the Fertile African Crescent. Augustin Holl (1989) has made it clear that pastoralism was the first form of food production developed by post Paleolithic groups in the Sahara.

In the western Saharan sites such as Erg In-Sakane region, and the Taoudenni basin of northern Mali, attest to cattle husbandry between 6000 and 5000 B.P. Cattle pastoral people began to settle Dar Tichitt and Karkarchinkat between 5000 and 3500 B.P.

There are corresponding terms for cattle in African languages:

Egyptian ng, nag

Azer na Nuer yang

Soninke na

Baguirmi m-ang, mang

Gourmantihe nua, nue

Gbea m-angu, mangu

Senufo nu

Sar(a) m-ang, mang

Ewe nyi

Wolof nag

Boua nya

Peul nag

Amo na

Angas ning

Baya nday

Susu ninge

Gera ndiya

Serere nak

Tamil naku

Mende nika

Hausa nagge

Burma nak

Jarawa i-nyak

Kagoro nyak

Burak nyek

Bobo nyanga

Duala nyaka

Fang nyar

The correspondence between African terms for cattle support the archaeological evidence for the early domestication of cattle in the Fertile African Crescent.

The oldest written evidence from Africa comes from the Egyptian language. The terms for 'cow' in Egyptian are ng and nag. In African many these languages we find either the consonant /n/ before the consonant g/k e.g., n/v________(v)g/k or a nasal consonant /n/ before the vowels -i/y and -a, e.g., n+/ a, n+/i+a= nia or n+y+a +nya.

During the Aqualithic period, due to abundant fertility in the Sahara , many people herded cattle. Nabta was located on the shoreline of a lake 11,000 years old.

A center of cattle worship was Nabta. At Nabta archaeologists have found the oldest megalithic site dating to 6000-6500 BC, which served as both a temple and calendar. This site was found by J. McKim Malville of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Fred Wendorf of Southern Methodist University.

Temple at Nabta

This sacre Proto-Saharan site at Nabta is spread over 1.8 miles. It is made up of large slabs of stone, some over 9 feet high and weighing up to 200 or 300 pounds apiece. It also has a number of tomb-like stone structures, now toppled and upright megaliths.

The Nabta calendar site is 12 foot wide with slabs around 18 inches long shaped like a circle. It contains two pairs of upright stones, which displayed sunrise during the Summer Solstice. These slabs are usually situated in an east-west direction. Another pair of stones were set up on a north-south direction.

There are numerous artifacts at Nabta which suggest that this was a center of cattle worship. For example, at Nabta one of the rocks at Nabta looks like a cow. Moreover, archaeologists have excavated a total of nine cattle burials at this site.

The Paleo-Africans also domesticated sheep and goats. By 6000 B.C. goat and sheep were domesticated in Tadrart Acacus. Theophile Obenga (1988) has already used linguistic material to highlight the domestication of the goat/sheep. The Egyptian term for sheep/ram is 0 zr #, 0 sr # . In sheep we find either the consonant /s/ or /z/ before the consonant /r/ for example s>0/#_________r. This corresponds to many other African terms for sheep/goat as outlined below:

Egyptian sr, zr

Coptic sro

Kwa siri

Amo zara

Dravidian kuri, korri

Bambara sarha

Sumerian zar, sar

Wolof xar

The linguistic data from the Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, Egyptian and the Mande Superset groups show cognition for the term for cattle/cow and sheep/goats in consonants and vowels as illustrated below:

1. Correspondence of consonants with in roots

Niger-Congo Nilotic Mande Chadic Egyptian

-g/-k g -g/-k -k -g

-s- -s- -z- s/z

-n- -n- n- m- n-

2. Correspondence of vowels within roots

Niger-Congo Nilotic Mande Chadic Egyptian

-i/y i/y i/y y

a/u a a/u a/u a

The camel may have also been domesticated by Africans. As early as the Old Kingdom camel hair cord was used by the Egyptians. Moreover camel figurines are found in Gerzean artifacts in an archaic Egyptian context. This along with rock drawings of camels and horses in ancient Nubia, suggests an archaic domestication of these animals by the Paleo-Africans.

In ancient times the horse and ass were used to pull chariots. But as the Sahara began to dry up, due to a lack of abundant water the horse was abandoned as a means of transpor- tation in the Sahara .