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New excavations from the region of the Sao have revealed evidence of an even earlier civilization referred to by archaeologists as the Gajiganna – Zilum Complex dating back to at least 1800 BC.

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Slavery was outlawed in Nri which became a place of refuge for people rejected from other societies.

The Kongo Kingdom (1400 – 1838 AD) in present day northern Angola and far western Democratic Republic of Congo established a diplomatic relationship with the Portuguese in 1485, a commercial partnership that lasted more than 200 years.

Nubia, also known as Cush, built more – albeit smaller – pyramids (pictured above) than Egypt, and eventually conquered and ruled Egypt during its 25th Dynasty (760 BC–656 BC).

Although this area is not located in western Africa, some suggest archaeological evidence and written Egyptian records could prove that ties existed between Ancient Egypt, Nubia, and the Sao/Gajiganna – Zilum Civilizations.

The city of Timbuktu was an important center of commerce and education during the Mali and Songhay Empires.

Timbuktu was the location of the University of Sankore founded in 988 AD (pictured above) which was famous throughout the Muslim world.

The Western African civilizations of Tichitt and Walata, Nok, Sao, Gajiganna – Zilum, and the Ghana Empire were all located in the section of Africa where most African Americans would eventually come from (shaded area of map).

While Europe descended into its “Dark Age” after the fall of the Roman Empire, West Africa was ascending into what many consider to be its Golden Age.

Sunni Ali Ber was the first King of the Songhay Empire (1375 – 1591 AD) as he seized control of former Mali strongholds using his powerful military.

Songhay eventually became the largest empire in pre-colonial West Africa encompassing most of the former Ghana and Mali Empires and eastward including present day western Niger.

Evidence of the Sao Civilization (500 BC-1500 AD) in present day eastern Nigeria, southern Chad, and northern Cameroon, near Lake Chad has traced its history to around 300 BC based on the discovery of pottery and terracotta sculptures (pictured above) at several sites in the area.

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