Climate and Language of Ancient Africa


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Climate and Language of Ancient Africa

  1. 1. Climate and Language Familiesof Ancient Africa
  2. 2. Ancient African ClimateImage from 18,000 BCE to c. 8,000 BCE• This was a dry period for Africa,which grew drier over time throughthe Younger Dryas period (aka. TheBig Freeze, roughly 10,300 to 9,000BCE). This was a swiftly developingice age that led to very aridconditions-drier than the even themap portrays.• Humans were hunter-gatherers
  3. 3. Ancient African ClimateImage from 7,500 BCE to c. 3,000 BCE• A wet period, known as theNeolithic Subpluvial or HoloceneWet Phase followed.• Deserts, including the Sahara,became grasslands that supportedmore humans than it did before orthan it does now.• The Neolithic or agriculturalrevolution occurred.
  4. 4. Ancient African Climatec. 7,500 BCE to c. 3,500 BCE• This wet period led to a migrationsof people due to more hospitableconditions.• As people migrated, they spreadtheir culture, languages, andpractices (including agriculture).• The migrations, as represented onthe map, reflect the dispersal oflanguage we see represented inmodern Africa.Image from
  5. 5. Modern African ClimateImage from c. 3,500 BCE• The wet period came to an end, andthe climate came to resemble whatit does now.• The Sahara gradually became adesert again and the peoples issupported migrated again to itsedges or perished.• The development of agriculturecontinued and allowed forsettlements that led to cities,kingdoms, and empires.
  6. 6. Climate and Language• Just as scientist believe humans cantie their origins to Africa, linguistsbelieve language originated in Sub-Saharan Africa.• The theory is that as humansspread, language spread andevolved.• As changes in climate caused thepeople of Africa to migrate,language spread.Image from
  7. 7. Language• Four language families have beenidentified:1. Afroasiatic2. Nilo-Saharan3. Khoisan4. Niger-Korddofanian/Niger-Congo• The language families can be tracedfrom the Late Stone Age• The language families were heavilyinfluenced by the migrations, bothof the African people and outsiders,as represented by the map.Image from
  8. 8. LanguageThe language families are associated with subsidence methods of the cultureswho spoke them. The methods of subsidence were in part dictated orencouraged by the climate of the area they inhabited during the wet period.Afro-AsiaticPastoralists andagropastoralistsNilo-SaharanpastoralistsKhoisanHunters and gatherersNiger-Korddofanian/Niger-CongoAgriculturalistsImage from
  9. 9. Language: AfroasiaticFun facts about the Afroasiatic language group• Only African language group to include a language non-African in origin, Arabic• Arabic currently the most widely spoken language within the group• Currently has over 200 million speakers• 371 languages in group• Earliest written record in ancient Egyptian c. 3400BCEImage from
  10. 10. Language: KhoisanFun facts about the Khoisan language group• Smallest of the African language families• 36 languages within group• Most Khoisan languages are endangered or extinct• Many languages within the group have no written record• Currently 200,000 to 300,000 speakers• Best known for click soundsImage from
  11. 11. Language: Nilo-SaharanFun facts about the Nilo-Saharan language group• Roughly 200 languages within group• Currently approximately 30 million speakers• One major unifying characteristic of the group is how the languages is hownumbers are usedImage from
  12. 12. Language: Niger-Korddofanian/Niger-CongoFun facts about the Niger-Korddofanian/Niger-Congo language group• Largest of the groups• Over 1,400 languages within group• Currently over 300 million speakers• Covers the largest area geographicallyImage from
  13. 13. sourcesAdams, Jonathan. “Africa During the Last 150,000 Years.” n.d. Web. 28 April 2013.<>.Alleyne, Richard. “Language Like People Came Out of Africa.” The Telegraph. 14 April2011. Web. 28 April 2013.<>.Bosch, Sonja. “African Language Families and Their Structural Properties.” 31 March2009. Web. 28 April 2013. <>.Herlin, Susan J. “Ancient African Civilizations to ca. 1500.” 2003. Web. 28 April 2013.<>.“History of Africa.” Wikipedia. n.d. Web 28 April 2013.<>.