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Africa: A.D. 1101 to 1200

Module by: Jack E. Maxfield. E-mail the author

AFRICA

Back to Africa: A.D. 1001 to 1100

NORTHEAST AFRICA

This was a period of building in the Lasta Kingdom of Ethiopia, with imported Egyptian artisans and materials for church construction. One of the greatest of the Lasta Zagwe kings was Lalibela, who came to power in 1195. Ethiopian records of this era were not kept indefinitely because later dominant dynasties considered the Zagwe an "usurping" one. (Ref. 270) The cathedral built about A.D. 700 in Qasr Ibrim, Nubia, was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but after a raid in 1172-1173 by Shams ed-Dowla, brother of Saladin, it was converted into a mosque. Its ruins remain today as a small island in Lake Nasser. (Ref. 271)

The death throes of the Fatimid caliphate came about not by Christian Crusaders but by the expansion of Nureddin and his Zangid Sultanate from Syria. Nureddin continued to live at Mosul and let Egypt be ruled by a Kurdish general, Saladin, who then proceeded to set up his own Ayyubid Dynasty in 1174. Islam glorified in the integrity and justice of his rule and even Christendom acknowledged him as a gentleman and scholar, even though a foe. At his death in 1193 his realm again became divided. (Ref. 137, 83)

NORTH CENTRAL AND NORTHWEST AFRICA

The Norman, Roger of Sicily, annexed the Zirid Emirate of Tunisia about 1153, but as Saladin took over Egypt, a Shi'ite empire was created farther west by a Berber tribe led by another supposed "Mahdi" and this Almohade Dynasty1 replaced the Almoravids and gave Barbary its finest hour. They defeated the remaining Zirids and finally even ran the Normans from Tunisia. (Ref. 137, 83)

SUBSAHARAN AFRICA

The Tellem people continued to flourish in Mali. Men wore robes made of cotton strips sewn together, with waistbands or leather aprons and cotton caps. The women wore short fiber aprons, occasionally with the front pulled back between the legs to fasten to a waistband behind. They had leather sandals decorated with incised geometric designs, leather bags and knife sheaths. Personal ornamentation included beads, iron, wood or bronze pendants, iron and leather bracelets and cylindrical quartz plugs worn in noses or ears of both sexes.

Ife, a kingdom south of Nok (Nigeria), flourished from 1100 to 1500 and produced the greatest artistic creations of tropical Africa. Ife bronzes were cast by the "lost wax" process which is still in use for some purposes today. (Ref. 175) Timbuktu was a trade center of this century, servicing the empires of Manding and Songhoy. Great stone buildings were erected in Great Zimbabwe as the Shona people made it the capital of their powerful state. (Ref. 8, 35) (Please also see the 15th century C.E. where there is a summary of several centuries of activity in this part of Africa).

Forward to Africa: A.D. 1201 to 1300

Footnotes

  1. In newer terminology this is the Muwahid Dynasty

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