EMPIRE of the IVORY COASTS
The Homo sapiens idaltu, ancestors
of Homo sapiens sapiens. Today, they
can only be found in Nigeria
The Ivory Coasts are home to the earliest known remains of anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens. These remains, the Timbuktu remains, were excavated underneath Timbuktu and have been dated to around 425,000 years ago. Additionally, skeletons of Homo sapiens idaltu were found at a site near Lake Chad. Dated approximately 300,000 years ago, they are widely believed to be the immediate ancestors of anatomically modern humans. Around 150,000 years ago, the Homo sapiens eburneus detached from Homo sapiens with the rise of the Σ haplogroup. They are believed to have originated near Timbuktu.
Mankind made its first advances in agriculture at around 20,000 BCE in what is now the Sahara. The end of the Ice Age at around 16,000 BCE brought saw the Sahara grasslands morph into the desert it is today, and is when proto-farmers moved to Timbuktu to domesticate plants several wild plants such as rice and sorghum. Many plants and animals, such as the two previously aforementioned, as well as cattle, boars, goats, and sheep were domesticated. In 10,000 BCE, various cultures in the area began to transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies. The first fully sedentary culture within the area is the Gourma culture, which established various cities such as Djenné around 10,000 BCE.
The Gourma culture (10,000-6,500 BCE) introduced pottery typically decorated with abstract geometric patterns and ornaments, made of clay. Various figurines and houses were dedicated towards deities of agriculture. The Mopti culture (9,000-8,000 BCE) arose in the seventh millennium BCE, followed by the Ségou culture (8,000-7,500 BCE). This culture was characterized by the presence of a highly settled culture with an organized social structure and the development of various political states. Under the San period (7,000-6,000 BCE), agricultural advances had spread across much of the Niger River with the exception of the West African interior. According to the Bla tome, the Gourmans were dominated and assimilated by the San period, beginning the Ivorian Antiquity (6,000-5,000 BCE).
Iron smelting furnaces near Timbuktu dating from around 10,000 BCE provide the oldest evidence of metalworking in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, excavations during the construction of the Mall of Africa revealed bronze-working around the same time. The transition from Neolithic times to the Iron Age was thus achieved without intermediate bronze production. The earliest identified iron-using Ivorian culture is that of the Gourma culture that arose in 10,000 BCE on the northernmost reaches of the Niger River.
Remains of the ancient quarter of Ife
The San conquest of Gourma marks the emergence of the Ivory Coasts as a civilization, as well as the beginning of its Early Antiquity. Accounts during this period also state the existence of various city-states and kingdoms, the most powerful of which were Timbuktu and Segu. The region was first united by the Messinan Empire in 6000 BCE, wherein a cultural symbiosis occurred between the San and the Messina peoples. During this period, the Homo sapiens sapiens within the Ivory Coasts began its decline, interbreeding with with Homo sapiens eburneus. The San was briefly conquered by Highland Peoples in the 5800s BCE, followed by a resurgence of San culture in the 5500 BCE. Around 4000 BCE, a wave of unidentified peoples from the Sahara, presumably the ancestors of the Tuaregs, conquered these city-states.
The Old Kingdom of San was founded by the beginning of the 6th millennium BCE, in 5,000 BCE, by King Delosben, marking the beginning of the Late Antiquity. San culture flourished during this period, becoming increasingly distinct and independent from surrounding cultures. It was also during this millennium that civilization spread from the Upper Niger to the western regions of Chad and the southern reaches of the Niger River. New kingdoms arose, such as Niamey, Ouagadougou, Tahoua, Maradi, Sokoto, Katsina, Gashua and Kano. Lower Niger was united solely under the Kingdom of the Nok, from where advances in metallurgy were made and spread throughout the Ivory Coasts.
In the 4th millennium BCE, the Upper Niger birthed a succession of powerful empires that came to rule almost all of West Africa—particularly the Middle Kingdom of San (3365-3076 BCE) and the New Kingdom (3076-2991). The Middle and New Kingdoms of San were, at their peaks, the largest of the world at the time, encompassing almost the entire Niger River as well as the Burkina steppes with the exception of Lower Niger. The kingdoms had a lasting and profound impact on the region, which now shared a common identity due to efforts to assimilate foreign tribes. However, the Kingdom of the Nok resisted the empire, which built massive fortifications to resist its various invasions.
Bayelsa, capital of the Kingdom of the
The Empire of the Ivory Coasts was founded at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE by King Njomo, leading to a series of dynasties that ruled the Ivory Coasts for the next four millennia. The original Ivorian cultures experienced a period of cultural intercourse with those of the Bantu. Various Bantu words entered the San lexicon, leading to the formation of the Classical Ivorian language. This period is known as the Njomo dynastic period or the 1st dynasty, which lasted from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE to 1645 BCE. This period is succeeded by the Intermediate period. Effects of the volcanic eruption of Thera in 1645 BCE had far-reaching effects in the Ivory Coasts that resulted into the end of the Njomo dynasty. This heralded a period of disunity in which a wave of people from the North, simply known as « white desert people, » invaded the Ivory Coasts. They took over much of the northern Ivory Coasts around 1640 BCE and founded the city of Kano. They were driven out by King Minenhle, who founded the Minenhle dynasty and relocated the capital from Segu to Timbuktu.
The Oluwande Mosque was a Muslim
monastery that housed most books &
manuscripts within the Ivory Coasts at
Nobles in the dynasty staged a rebellion sometime around 1620 BCE. This resulted into the passing of the Imperial Constitution Edict of 1617 BCE, which decentralized power from the Emperor to the nobility as rulers of fiefdoms, and established the the modern Ivorian government. Over time, this system became strained as relationships between the Emperor and the nobility thinned. The Tuareg Invasion of 1271 rendered the position of Emperor untenable, and eventually dependent on neighbouring states. During this period, various states such as Mali and Burkina momentarily held the most influence over the Emperor. By 800 BCE, increasing societal multipolarity within the Ivory Coasts led to a rise in conflicts between the peasants and nobility, leading to gradual erosion of these fiefdoms and the rise of semi-independent localities. Eventually, the six fiefs of Gao, Mopti, San, Benin, Faso and Niamey gained enough power to divide the Ivory Coasts into their own respective spheres of influence. In 500 BCE, the Mali Hegemony collapsed due to a civil war, allowing the six spheres of influence to unite. The following four centuries were dominated by a state of almost constant warring known as the Sextuple Conflict.
The Gilded Hall in the Marble Palace, a
room made entirely of gold. Made in
The Sextuple Conflict ended in 441 BCE as the Ghanaian Fiefdom conquered the other five fiefdoms and was granted 'Grand Chancellory', allowing it to become the first Chancellory of the Ivory Coasts. The Early Ghanaian period was marked by the conquest of the Burkina Steppes and the Liberian Rainforest, the assimilation of conquered peoples; as well as technological advances in the fields of architecture, metallurgy, mathematics, astronomy and paper-making. The botched Coup of 101 BCE began an increase in tension within the Imperial Court, with politicians dividing into cliques and engaging in violent power struggles. The Revolution of 32 BCE caused a succession crisis which divided the Empire into warlord states and beginning the Late Ghanaian period.
The Late Ghanaian period, marked by almost constant warfare, ended with the Duke Bamako's acquisition of the position of Grand Chancellor in 2 CE. During the Early Bamako period, the Ivory Coasts transitioned into a complex palace economy, and the first guilds were formed. The Kamari Azami Rebellion, lasting between 322 and 330, marks the breakdown of Bamako authority. By the 5th century, a military class had arisen and formed warlord states, marking the beginning of the Early Middle Ages. This period was marked by a de-urbanization, a decline in trade, a slowdown in technological progress, and the domination of the military nobility over scholar-merchants. A struggle for influence between the nobility and the monarchy allowed for the election of the Members of Imperial Court, transitioning the Ivory Coasts into a constitutional monarchy.
Shorty after contact with Islamic traders, Ivorian economy, technology and culture entered a golden age marked by urbanization. Timbuktu became a cosmopolitan urban centre, and military campaigns occurred as far as the Nile River in present-day Sudan. However, the Bamako Chancellory was devastated and weakened by the Gbayeda Rebellion in 901, and disintegrated completely when local military governors became semi-independent. The Loluwa Chancellory ended the situation in 1060, and soon became the second government to issue paper money and the first Ivorian polity to establish a permanent standing navy. Between the 11th and 15th centuries, the population of the Ivory Coasts doubled to around 150 million, mostly due to land reforms and food surpluses. However, the military weakness of the Loluwa Army was observed by Nilotic tribes in the far east. In 1527, the Nilotic tribe of Akesh sacked Timbuktu, forcing the Emperor to grant them the position of Grand Chancellor. The Akesh Chancellory was declared, while the remains of the Loluwa Chancellory retreated to Senegal and was conquered in 1571.
Under the Akesh Chancellory, the Empire sustained trade with the outside world for the first time, primarily with the Spanish and Portuguese empires. It developed the world's largest navy at the time, fuelled by the propagation of artisanal guilds and advanced proto-industrial factories. The scholar-merchant stratum arose as the ruling class during this period, established various institutions such as the Ivory Bank, and various guilds that survive until today; as well as served as patrons of painters, poets, architects, and artisans. The economy derived its revenues from corporate income, trade, and the well-regulated paper currency. Peasants and merchants began to enter larger markets as a result. This prosperity allowed the Ivory Coasts to overtake India and China as the world's foremost economy.
An Ivorian painting depicting injured European soldiers following the
Battle of Timbuktu
Meanwhile, several regional polities involved themselves within global conflicts, leading only to defeat and loss of territory during the Guinean Wars and the War of Senegal. The Ivorian Emperor Fiayosemi (1779-1826) made various attempts to reverse the Empire’s decline, but ultimately had to seek the protection of the Empire of the Sahara, Ahmed Shah Abdali, which led to the Third Battle of Bamako between Senegal and the Ivory Coasts in 1780. In 1790, the Senegalese captured Timbuktu from Ivorian control and in 1804, they officially became the protectors of the emperor from Timbuktu. Thus, the Senegalese Guild established a hegemony over the 35th dynasty.
Decreased administrative control nationwide led to the establishment of various chartered companies by Europeans to the Ivory Coasts during the turn of the 19th century. Many Companies gained a foothold in the Ivory Coasts through the establishment of various factories along the coast, or by outright conquest of coastal cities. None of these factories were granted Royal Assent from Emperor Fiayosemi. The French Ivory Coasts Company (FICC) established a colony on Gambia; the Spanish in Bissau; the British in Dakar and along the Niger Delta; and the Dutch along the Gold Coast. These settlements were taken over by the British Ivory Coasts Company during the Napoleonic Wars, and returned them except to the French.
The encroachment of European powers into Ivorian lands led to the Senegalese Wars (1827-1880) in which a European coalition of the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Portugal launched an invasion into the Ivory Coasts. The Empire pioneered strategies guerrilla warfare, biological warfare, propaganda and espionage. Castles of defiant lords were destroyed, while bodies infected by malaria, dengue and Ebola were thrown to European military fortifications. Widespread usage of propaganda enforced imperial power and led to the centralization of the state. By the 1850s, the situation had devolved into a total warfare. Within Europe, this encouraged the industrialization of various countries, leading to further losses by the Ivorian Coast. However, European manpower was largely exhausted by the 1860s, and relied on local rebels. The Senegalese Wars ended with the death of 40 million Ivorians (10% of the population at the time), and concluded by the Berlin Conference of 1880, which most prominently safeguarded the Ivory Coasts from later colonization.
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