Ancient Africa - European relations

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
#1
Sometimes a large part of Africa - the northern part, is almost seen as a western extension of Western Asia/the "Middle East". One reason is the many centuries of islam and Arabic and Turkish influence and domination.
Was those relations alwaysn that close? Or was there a time when much of africa had as much to do with Europe, the southern part in particular, as with any other region, if not more. After all large parts of Africa and europe are not so far away, and the distance over the straits of the Meditteranean should not be so much of a barrier even with fragile vessels - (comparable with the English and Irish channels, or the straits ,"Belts" of Northern Europe). So what do we know about ancient relations - prehistorical in particular? Trade, wars, invasions, migrations and cultural relations?
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,388
#2
As a general rule, water connects. Mountains, forests and deserts are obstacles for contact between societies. Navigable water tends to work the opposite for at least recorded history.

Which is why the Mediterranean as a whole already in antiquity became pretty well interconnected. The Sahara to the south was a far greater obstacle for stable connections of significant magnitude. So were the forests and mountains of northern Europe.

I'd say culturally, up to and including the Middle Ages the shores of the Mediterranean defined pretty well a kind of cultural continuum. For all the obvious divide between Christianity and Islam, while both considered the other heretical, they were actually in massive agreement over basic assumptions about natural philosophy, medicine, etc. They may have thought each other wrong, but they had no problem understanding the broader world-view of the other, as they were virtually identical, constructed from the same building-blocks.
 

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
#3
They may have thought each other wrong, but they had no problem understanding the broader world-view of the other, as they were virtually identical, constructed from the same building-blocks.
While there is a lot to say in favour of Your post, for me "virtually identical" may perhaps be a bit of an excaggeration. Anyway, I was particularly interested in pre-historical connections, since I donĀ“t know very much about them, but guess there was some. Perhaps even people at both sides were at some times closely related?
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,019
Canary Islands-Spain
#4
North Africa has shifted over time between strong inner Africa influences and not less strong Mediterranean-Middle East influence. This is particularly true for Egypt, but also, to a lesser degree, for Maghreb. Then we should consider the influence from Europe, the less important probably.

In regard to Prehistoric times, during the Holocene Optimun, when Sahara was green, there was not a barrier among "sub-saharan" Africa and the northern one, there wasn't Sahara at all. Cultures were shared among the south and the north, for example the Capsian culture.

Strong influences from the Middle East got North Africa: the expansion of neolithic, wheat, barley, goats and sheeps came together with humans. There is clear genetic inflow from the ME. This ME tendences arrived by the coast mostly. From Egypt, some religious cults extended over the rest of North Africa, for example Amon-Ra whorship. Later, Punics colonized Maghreb.

There is an ancient genetic barrier among Iberia-Italia and Maghreb, flowing of people seem to be that of minorities. There are some cultural relations: might there existed an Iberomaurisian culture shared by Iberia and western Maghreb on post-glacial age, while southern Italy and Tunisia seem to be lightly linked since very early. South Europe and North Africa shared Cardium Pottery culture and Bell Beaker culture.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,183
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#5
Technically the Ancient Egyptian culture was African, with deep roots in the south [where already in neolithic time there were communities with megalithic sites and astronomical interests, astronomical interests transmitted to the later Egyptian culture]. So for a couple of millennium [until the end of the New Kingdom for sure, I would say] the main flux of influence was Africa > Middle East.

But before of the Egyptian civilization the prehistorical Europe didn't leave clear evidences of an African influence. And the matter of fact that continental Europe [overall the central / western part] saw a slower development than Northern Africa seems to be a suggestion that there weren't wide contacts.
 

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