Most Impressive Ancient Kingdoms in Africa

Sudan pyramids

Nubian pyramids ©Retlaw Snellac/Flickr

It is widely accepted now that Africa is the Cradle of Civilization. Many historians and anthropologists will agree that the first humans lived in Africa, and later migrated to other regions of the world. So it is easy to understand why some of the most ancient kingdoms and civilizations can be found in Africa.

Let us not forget that one of the oldest, long-lasting and developed empires that has ever existed – the ancient Egypt – is found in Africa. But there are even older civilizations in Africa, even if they are not as famous as Egypt. Here are some good examples:


Nubia was a region on the upper course of the Nile, roughly corresponding to the nowadays North Sudan. Long before the Ancient Egypt flourished, there was the old kingdom of Nubia (although it was called differently at that time). Traces of this civilization go very far back in time, to the 4h millennium BC and even older. Nubians were good warriors, good agriculturists and had strong commercial links to Egypt.

Sudan pyramids

Nubian pyramids ©Retlaw Snellac/Flickr

Kingdom of Meroë

This was another impressive ancient kingdom in Africa, very close to the Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. The kingdom of Meroë lasted from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. There are many archeological remains of this kingdom, including a large complex of royal tombs (pyramids), that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The people of Meroë inventes their own alphabet, were very good at working iron and gold, and had commercial connections with the most distant countries – such as India.


What is now known as Ethiopia was one home to the powerful Kingdom of Axum. The kingdom of Axum existed for almost 1500 years, being first attested in the 4th century BC. The capital of this kingdom was Axum – today an important historic sight in Ethiopia. The great power of the kings of Axum lied in their naval power.  But strangely or not, the capital Axum was not a port, but a city built at over 2000 meters altitude.

ssite in Ethiopia

Axum Obelisk ©A.Davey/Flickr


A kingdom in North Africa, Numidia had a relatively short span – of about 200 years. Numidians were the ancestors of modern day Libyans, however most of their country was on the territory of Algeria. Numidia participated in the Punic Wars (between Rome and Carthage), which ended with the defeat and annihilation of Carthage. So Numidia had an important part of the territory that once belonged to Carthage, until becoming a Roman provence at the beginning of the 1st century AD.

archeological site

Numidia ruins ©isawnyu/Flickr


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