to Glory: Trading Empires
African peoples had been using metals for a long time.Gold
and copper had been used in Nubia and Egypt since 4000 BC
- in fact Nub is the Ancient Egyptian word for gold. There
was early trade across the Sahara through which West African
gold was traded for Libyan copper. However gold and copper
were not hard enough metals to be used as empire building
weapons and tools.This is why the Iron Age has been so important.
use of iron gave people the power to govern the natural environment,
to dig, hoe, plough, cut and chop. Iron weapons gave them
the power to dominate their enemies and subdue their neighbours.
This alowed them to produce richer crops, built permanent
homes and grow wealthy. Cities, states and empires were born.Iron
smelting was introduced to Cush around 200 BC.
art was probably kept as a secret by the priests of Meroe,
but still the knowledge managed to filter out, so that even
before the birth of Christ it had reached West and Central
Africa, probably via the Berber peole of Libya.
the end of the 12th century AD, locally produced iron was
being traded from the Southern African port of Sofala, to
reach India and possibly further. Civilisations flourished
and fell around the control of the use of iron.A lot can be
understood about communications across the continent from
the spread of the art of iron smelting, to prove that there
was movement, trade and transfer of ideas and goods from north
to south and east to west.