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The Nile Valley Civilizations

Chapter Outline
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Along the Nile Corridor Nubia, the Land of the Bow Kemet (Egypt), the Star of Africa Kush, the Jewel of Nubia Vocabulary

Kemet cataracts monarchy Sirius inundation dynasty Medu Neter


Along the Nile Corridor

Unlike most rivers which flow to the south, the Nile flows to the north. It begins as two streams in southeastern Africa: the White Nile in the mountains of Uganda and the Blue Nile in the highlands of Ethiopia. The streams meet and become one in Sudan and flow for 6,737 kilometers (4,187 miles) north toward the Mediterranean Sea. Deposits of silt along the banks of the Nile River created a fertile environment for the Africans who lived in the Nile Valley. Three important civilizations developed in this river valley: Nubia, Kemet (later named Egypt by the Greek invaders), and Kush. The Nile flows for nearly 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) through Nubia. It is interrupted by a series of cataractsplaces where stones jut out of the water, creating rapids and small waterfalls. Several of these cataracts are located in Nubia; others appear in Kemet (keh-MET). In ancient times, Africans traveled to each cataract. They carried or dragged their canoes or boats around the rocks. Then they put them back into the water to continue their journey.

What three important civilizations developed along the Nile River? How were Nubia and Kemet related? Why was Kemet the Star of Africa? What role did the Kingdom of Kush play in revitalizing the Nile Valley?

8000 B.C.E.332 B.C.E.

The histories of the Nile Valley civilizationsNubia, Kemet, and Kushare interrelated. They share many things in common; the most important perhaps were the constant shining sun and the flowing Nile. Much of what is known about Nubia and Kush comes from Egyptian records; however, there is also archaeological evidence which suggests that the Nubians were gifted at creating their own art, agriculture, and religion. They also created a strong military. This fact may be why the Nubians called their land TaSety, (tah-SEH-tee) meaning the Land of the Bow.

Nubia, the Land of the Bow

Flowing through northeast Africa, the Nile River has given life to several grand empires. The artistry of Nubia, one of the first great civilizations nurtured by the river, is shown in the pottery (inset above).

(8000 B.C.E.3400 B.C.E.) Nubia, a civilization that dates back to the middle of the New Stone Age (15,000 3400 B.C.E.), was the first to make use of the special gifts of the Nile Valley. It lasted from about 8000 B.C.E. to 3400 B.C.E. The early Nubians lived along the narrow banks of the river. Their land was blessed with a hot sun, fertile soil, and a good supply of water. But it was extremely hotabout 120 degrees in the shade in the middle of the day.

The men and women who forged the Nile, dragged their canoes around the cataracts, and settled in the Nile Valley had a profound and lasting effect on civilization. They established governments, developed traditions, created arts, practiced sciences, and built cities which would remain memorable throughout the ages.

Done made my vow to the Lord And I never will turn back I will go, I shall go To see what the end shall be.

Winning Through Law

Unit SummaryAn uprising by the Vietnamese at Dien Bien
Phu in 1954, led to the geographic division of Vietnam into two halves: North Vietnam and South Vietnam. In 1964, the North Vietnamese attacked an American naval vessel. Congress voted to expand the number of American soldiers in the region. The majority of the soldiers who were drafted and placed in deadly combat zones were African American. The most devastating event of 1968 came with the assassination of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Chapter 47). The Nation of Islam in Detroit received much attention from the media for its controversial stance on race and its strategies for empowering African Americans who were considered either too poor to help themselves, or were in jail. Malcolm X discovered Islam while in prison and became a national leader after his release. He and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,. disagreed, on the best remedy for racial discrimination. Malcolm X broke with the Nation of Islam. He was killed as he spoke to an audience of followers. (Chapter 48) Following Malcolms death, two African American students from California created the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Many Black Panthers carried weapons, which brought them into conflict with law enforcement officials. The use of aggressive resistance by the Panthers and other groups signaled a new revolutionary movement for African American equality. (Chapter 49) One of the most powerful African American youth groups included the US Movement. Its founder, Maulana Karenga, began the holiday Kwanzaa in 1966. (Chapter 50).

BEFORE YOU READ In life, all human beings are confronted with events which cause us to consider what actions we should take to bring about some form of change. Often, whatever decision we make will have some effect on others. In this unit, you will see how the passions of people on both sides of the war raging in Vietnam, as well as in the struggle for civil rights and African American empowerment, created events and consequences many never would have expected. You will also see how people struggling to achieve many of the same goals adopted vastly different methods. Consider which side of the struggle you would have chosen, and whether the ends justified the means.

headrights of others is not known. The records show that he was a large landowner.

Life Without Enslavement

What would the American landscape be like if indentureship had continued and enslavement had never existed? It is very likely that there would have been far fewer Africans in America, because Africans on the continent did not need to come to America for land, religious freedom, or wealth. They already had those things on their own continent. Perhaps those Africans who wanted to come to Maryland America would have had the same 1633 opportunity for personal and financial success that other colonists had. We will never know. The freedom of Africans to pursue a new life was short-lived, as the Europeans claimed new colonies and prejudice based on the color of ones skin became associated with enslavement. The practice of identifying Africans by skin color was born during the period of transition from indentureship to enslavement of Africans. Prior to about 1650, the colonists referred to themselves as Christian or English. When white USING A MAP KEY and African indentured servants By the time American colonists other European powers. Using the revolted against those who failed fought for independence, all of map key, identify the colonies in to honor their contracts to release the original 13 colonies were which a portions were settled by controlled by the British, but Swedes. Where and when were them on schedule, however, the several had been settled earlier by the Dutch in control? landowners changed their relationships with the Africans. Creek. He acquired his acreage through a system White became good and black became bad. called headright, which allowed a planter to claim Indentured whites were encouraged by the 50 acres for each servant brought to the colony. landowners to feel superior to blacks, although Whether Anthony Johnson actually brought they were in the very same condition. This false Africans into the colony or simply purchased the sense of superiority separated indentured whites

the pangs of death came like balm to their wounds.

Nameless and Stateless

It was here on these ships during the dark and sometimes stormy nights on the ocean that African captives became nameless, stateless, and countryless people. Few people have shown the courage of the Africans who refused to die in the midst of the horrifying experience of the Middle Passage. When Africans landed in the Americas after weeks at sea, they believed that nothing could be so dehumanizing as the trip across the ocean. They were wrong. The process of dehumanization had only begun.

Dehumanization, the idea of reducing humans to things, had become the special weapon of the slave-ship captains. The colonists soon adopted this practice. Europeans who participated in the trade convinced themselves that Africans were inferior and uncivilized. To dehumanize another person, you have to believe in your own superiority and the other persons inferiority and be willing to inflict pain and suffering to such a degree that it separates the sufferer from the oppressor. Oppressors keep

Malnourished, mistreated, and dislocated, many Africans died during the dreadful sea voyage to permanent enslavement in the Americas.

others down by cruel or unjust use of power. In order to justify their cruel treatment of Africans, the oppressors depicted them as a people of lower standing, lacking in cultural development. Whenever human beings define others as inferior or bad because of their physical or cultural differences, racism (prejudice against one race by another) thrives.

This diagram shows the dehumanization of Africans during the Middle Passage. Treated like cargo instead of humans, they were jammed into the dark, airless slave hold and shackled there for most of the 40-to-80-day trip.


Europeans with captives or of betraying members of their own communities by selling them into bondage. As the imbalance in trade continued, some African kings, corrupted by greed, waged wars against the Europeans because they wanted the Europeans to pay more taxes for the right to trade Africans. The early system of trade among Africans and Europeans grew more corrupt with each passing year. African kingdoms were robbed of their populations, especially the bright young men and women who were the strength of the nation and the foundation of the next generation. Community and trust, sacred bonds of African cultures, were put at severe risk because individuals did not know who would be next, or who would betray them to the enslavers. Many African kings became frustrated with the way the slave trade debased their kingdoms. They began to oppose and

In this artists interpretation of African resistance, Africans armed with spears and knives fight valiantly, even though they are outnumbered and outgunned.

African Captives Taken from Africa (16001800) CATEGORY

Young Females Young Males Children Adults TOTAL

1430 1430 under 14 over 30


resistance suggests that more African leaders than previously thought were involved in the resistance to the trade. The involvement of African leaders was complicated because many were trading Africans to Europeans themselves. African leaders who had grown used to the guns, rum, knives, and other European goods quickly found themselves in the difficult position of promoting war with other African ethnic groups to supply the

2.40 4.48 1.12 0 8.00

Estimates of African captives taken from Africa during the European Slave Trade vary from 8 million to 100 million.


I believe that this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolvedI do not expect the house to fallbut I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the states, old as well as new, North as well as South. Like many Republicans of his day, Lincoln had mixed views about how to resolve the race problem, but eventually he became convinced that colonization was the answer. He believed that slaveholders would be more willing to free those enslaved if they knew the enslaved were going to be shipped off to Africa. Moreover, whites in the North would not have to worry about the freed Africans coming into their states to compete with white workers for jobs. Even during his presidency Lincoln held onto this completely unworkable idea.

The flag on top was owned by a resident of the Northern states, which remained in the Union and opposed enslavement. The lower flag was used during the Civil War by the Army of Northern Virginia. Virginia was a pro-slavery state.

enslavement where it already existed. However, they wanted to stop its spread. They nominated Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for president.




Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860. African Americans were overjoyed because they thought he was an abolitionist. The South, however, feared Lincoln. They also thought that he was an abolitionist. They were afraid that he would end enslavement in the Western territories and the District of
Did You Know
Lincolns views on enslavement, at times, appear to be contradictory. Although he was troubled by enslavement, he did not plan to end it in the South. He only wanted to prevent its spread to the West.

Abraham Lincoln had long been troubled by African enslavement because he saw it as a divisive issue in the unity of the nation. He did not believe that Africans were equal to whites and he did not think that Africans and whites could coexist in the same society on an equal basis. He clearly believed that the United States should not be broken up over the issue of the enslavement of Africans. Lincoln declared in his celebrated debates with Stephen A. Douglass in 1858:

the concept of African American History Month, which originally was called Negro History Week. In his classic book The Mis-education of the Negro, he recorded his most powerful opinions on education. The book created quite a sensation when it was published in 1933. Woodson said that African Americans were miseducated, or taught to look away from their own history. He believed that the institutions set up immediately after the Civil War and in the early 20th century to educate African Americans were guilty of psychological or mental enslavement. He said this was true because African Americans knew more about the literature, music, art, and culture of other races than they knew about their own. Woodson believed that African Americans were being trained to feel inferior because they were educated to believe they had no history of their own of which to be proud. Given the education they were receiving, Woodson declared that African Americans would have a difficult time viewing their own art, literature, music, or culture as equal to that of Europeans. He saw this type of Eurocentric education, centered almost entirely on the achievements of Europeans, as a continuation of enslavement. He believed that this method of education would create a race of people who would accept the idea of European cultural superiority in everything. He feared African Americans would deny their own culture. On these points, Woodson was prophetic. Many African Americans are unaware of Africas rich legacy and the contributions that Africans have made to the world. Today, many schools struggle to create

curriculum that places all students at the center of learning to help them value their own history and culture and the history and culture of others.

Other personalities appeared during the century who were as distinguished for their intellectual, scientific, or artistic contributions as Woodson was for education. Ernest Just, the first African American trained as a research biologist, wrote books on cell theory and went on to receive the first Spingarn Medal from the NAACP for his achievements as a scientist. In economics, Robert C. Weaver, Charles L. Franklin, and Abram Harris were outstanding as government advisors on matters of African American employment and housing. In history there were pioneers such as Charles H. Wesley, Rayford Logan, and Benjamin Quarles, who introduced the formal study of African and African American history to the classroom, and historian John Hope Franklin. Other fields and interests produced educators such as Anna Julia Cooper, poets and educators such as Sterling Brown, sociologists such as Kenneth Clark, diplomats such as Ralph Bunche, and medical researchers such as Dr. Charles Drew.

Did You Know

Carter Woodson was born into poverty. He taught himself on his own at night, and did not start to receive formal schooling until he was 17. Then he went on to earn a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He wrote his first book, The

Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, while teaching

high school.

Dr. Charles Drew, Ralph Bunche, and Ernest Just were pioneers in their fields.

that Africans could not make any legal claims under the United States courts. Roger Taney, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was a supporter of enslavement. Here is what he wrote when he dismissed the case in 1857 and returned Dred Scott to enslavement: They [Africans] had more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to be associated with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics.

Dred Scott was denied his freedom by the Supreme Court, which ruled in 1857 that Africans were not citizens and had no legal status in the United States.


Less than three years after the devastating effect of the Fugitive Slave Law, Africans were slapped with yet another terrible ruling. The Dred Scott Decision was a shock to Africans and a stunning blow to abolition. It was a case about The case was dismissed and Dred Scott was an enslaved African who had been taken from a returned to enslavement. Later in the same year, slave state into free territories. Scotts previous owners bought him and set him Dred Scotts owner, a United States army free. Scott continued to live in St. Louis, working surgeon, took him into Wisconsin and Illinois, both free states.When he returned to Missouri, Scott, with the help of his friends and lawyers, brought a suit for his freedom because he had been in a free state. The state court of Missouri ruled against him in 1852 and Scott took his case to the Supreme Court. Five years later the Supreme Court also denied his petition, citing that the Missouri courts had already determined his status. Moreover, the Supreme Court decided that when the Constitution was created and adopted, Africans were not citizens of the United As this notice for a public meeting shows, many people were outraged by States. The court further stated
the ruling in the Dred Scott case.

union. In addition, according to the projections of the United States Census Bureau, there will be no majority race in the United States of America in less than 50 years. The concept of race developed as Europeans came into contact with Africa; but among Africans there was no racial distinction. Europeans gradually began to emphasize the obvious physical differences between themselves and Africans to claim their superiority and the inferiority of Africans. Over the centuries, this attitude among Europeans has produced a negative reaction to Africans and African Americans. Among Africans, differences among various ethnic groups were recognized for what they werecultural differences.

Ethnic Identities
There are more language and ethnic groups on the African continent than on any other continent in the world. Africa has more than 2000 such groups. One nation, Nigeria, has more than 800 different ethnic or language groups. Each ethnic group usually speaks a different language. Modern Africologists, people who teach about Africa, define an ethnic group as a population within a specific culture that shares common social institutionsparticularly language and customs. People who belong to a particular ethnic group may be easy to identify because they also share similar physical characteristics; however, they always share cultural features such as language, art, music, and traditions.

Certain cultural practices identify people as part of a particular ethnic group. Among West African groups, such as the Yoruba in Nigeria, scarification is often used to show beauty, for identification, as well as initiation and rites of passage.

By reason of long bondage and hard slavery we have been deprived of enjoying the profits of our labor or the advantage of inheriting estates from our parents as white people do . . . and yet we have been taxed and now are taxed both in our polls and that small pittance of estate which through much hard labor and industry we have got together to sustain ourselves.

Petition to the Massachusetts Legislature, 1780

Free Africans
Unit SummaryFree Africans were forced to live under harsh conditions in 18th- and 19th-century America. Their legal status as free people could be taken away without appeal. They were legally prohibited from voting, gathering in groups, entering certain professions, and even traveling without permission. They endured oppression similar to the more recent examples of the Jews in Hitlers Germany or the Africans under apartheid. In spite of these limitations, however, many free Africans prosperedsome becoming wealthier than many whites. By the middle of the 19th century, free Africans were receiving patents for a wide variety of inventions that led industrial development in the United States. Their contributions included patents in sugar refinery, the development of the telephone, railway cars, electric lights, the ironing board, and much more. Their personal and financial successes are evidence of the indomitable spirit and creativity of the African people. (Chapter 18) One of the major injustices that free Africans of this period faced was taxation without representation. Africans had aided the colonists in the war against Britain, which was fought to gain representation. Yet, after claiming victory against their oppressors, the colonists denied Africans this same basic right. Free Africans had to pay the same taxes as white Americans but often had no access to the public services, education, and political institutions for which they were paying. Just as certain colonial leaders spoke out against the British, leading Africans took actions to protest the violation of African rights. (Chapter 19)
BEFORE YOU READ What rights do you possess? Some of them include the right to a free education, to free speech, and to make personal decisions. The American legal system protects these rights. They cannot be taken away from you. In this unit, you will read how the American legal system took actions that denied free Africans certain basic rights. You will also discover the profound effect these actions had on free Africans in 19thcentury America. How would you feel if your rights were taken from you? On a sheet of paper, make a list of words that describe your feelings. Refer to this list as you read Unit 6 to remind yourself of how free Africans of the time most likely felt.

In Everlasting Memory Of the Anguish of our ancestors. May those who died rest in peace. May those who return find their roots. May humanity never again perpetrate Such injustice against humanity We the living vow to uphold this.

Plaque commemorating the tragic fate of enslaved Africans on a former slave fort in Ghana

Scattered To The West: The European Slave Trade

700 C.E.1808 C.E.
Unit SummaryDuring the 1400s, the Portuguese, followed
by other European traders, traveled to Africa in search of gold. They found a land rich in many resources. At first, the visitors were satisfied transporting these African resources back to Europe where they were sold for profit. Fueled by greed, the European visitors soon targeted Africas greatest natural resourceits peoplefor mass enslavement. The enslavement of Africans was different from the form of slavery practiced in Africa and many other cultures. Millions of Africans were brutally uprooted from their homeland and dispersed around the world for economic profit. Their dispersion is called the African Mfecane. (Chapter 5) The Europeans soon recognized that a vast market was rapidly developing for enslaved Africans in the colonies. European industries in the colonies grew at a rapid rate which created a strong need for labor. This led to the European Slave Trade, an immoral business of conquest and domination that damaged Africas economy and made the nations of Europe wealthy. (Chapter 6) For three centuries, Africans were brutally uprooted from their homes and forced to endure an inhumane voyage at sea. The Europeans treated their African captives as mere goods that could bring great profit. While disease and death were common on the slave ships, thousands of courageous Africans refused to give in to their oppressors. The African captives who survived were separated from their families and homeland. They were forced to begin a new life among people who were hostile toward them. (Chapter 7)

BEFORE YOU READ Most people seek some level of material wealth. This desire can act as a motivator. When held in balance, the desire for material wealth can be quite positive. However, when the need for material gain violates the natural rights of others, greed sets in. In this unit, you will read how many Europeans desire for wealth grew into an immoral greed that brutally violated the rights of millions of Africans. Think about a time when you were victimized by anothers greed. How did the experience make you feel about yourself and the other person?

The ruins of one of the famed temples of Karnak was built during the Middle Kingdom. Inset above shows sculptures from the nearby Valley of the Kings, on the west bank of the Nile across from Luxor, where the kings of the New Kingdom were laid to rest.

Imhotep built the first pyramid for King Djoser (JOS-sahr). It was called the Sakkara Step Pyramid because it was constructed to look like giant steps. Its complex contains the oldest masonry building in the world. Following Imhoteps example, new builders arose to construct the Great Pyramids of Giza in honor of Kings Khufu (KOO-foo), Khafre (KAH-fray), and Menkaure (mehn-kah-OO-ray). They remain the greatest wonders in the world because of their size, majesty, and longevity (see Origins, pp. A4 and A5). The Old Kingdom (2700 B.C.E.2190 B.C.E.) The adventures of Harkuf (har-CUFF), governor of Aswan, demonstrates the cultural exchange and trade that flourished between Kemet and sub-Saharan Africa during the Old Kingdom. Harkuf, governor of Aswan, went on

three expeditions to the interior of Africa about 2130 B.C.E. to places that appear to be in the Congo Basin. He and his caravan of camels and donkeys traveled more than 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) a thousand miles across the Sahara Desert to the Ituri (i-TUR-ee) rain forest in Central Africa, where he visited with the Twa (TWAH) people. In one of his diaries Harkuf declared: I have come here from my city, I have descended from my nome, I have built a house, set up its doors, I have dug a pool, planted sycamores, The king praised me, My father made a will for me. I was one worthy. Harkuf was worthy of the attention and praise he received because his expeditions took him far beyond the boundaries and power of

The pyramids in Giza, built to house the tombs of the kings of the Old Kingdom, are the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Kemet used it to transport timber and large stones for shipbuilding and massive building projects (see Origins, p. A4). The sun, on the other hand, was a constant reminder of stability and regularity. It rarely rained in Kemet, so the people used their time productively in agriculture and building. Even during the flooding, they just moved to higher ground and continued to work. Some historians have suggested that this stability was a sort of stagnation which may have slowed their progress. Others argue that it was important for the maintenance of the civilization because it allowed the people to use their time productively. Kemet developed into a unique civilization with a centralized government which united 42 different cities, called Nomes (NOHMS), along the Nile. Menes (MEH-neez), who is sometimes called Narmer, the king of the 1st Dynasty, united

the various groups of Upper Kemet to the south with the groups of Lower Kemet to the north into one nation. A dynasty is a family of kings and queens which rules for a long period of time. Before Menes united them, there were only groupings of clans from various ethnicities settled along the river. His unification in 3200 B.C.E. marked the first time in recorded history that a ruler had brought together so many different groups into a single nation. This accomplishment earned Menes a new title, Father of the Nation. In addition to Menes of the 1st Dynasty, Kemet gave rise to many other historic figures. Imhotep (im-HO-tep), prime minister during the 3rd Dynasty, is the most memorable. He is the first personality in recorded history about whom

Did You Know

Today, many African Americans use hotep, which means peace, as a greeting.

The Rhind Papyrus (shown here) illustrates Kemetic achievement in mathematics. The Kemetic people used trigonometry to calculate the slopes of the pyramids and other structures.