There is evidence of agriculture in Africa prior to 3000 B.C. It may have developed independently, but many scholars believe that the spread of agriculture and iron throughout Africa linked it to the major centers of the Near East and Mediterranean world. The drying up of what is now the Sahara desert had pushed many peoples to the south into sub-Sahara Africa. These peoples settled at first in scattered hunting-and-gathering bands, although in some places near lakes and rivers, people who fished, with a more secure food supply, lived in larger population concentrations. Agriculture seems to have reached these people from the Near East, since the first domesticated crops were millets and sorghums whose origins are not African but west Asian. Once the idea of planting diffused, Africans began to develop their own crops, such as certain varieties of rice, and they demonstrated a continued receptiveness to new imports. The proposed areas of the domestication of African crops lie in a band that extends from Ethiopia across southern Sudan to West Africa. Subsequently, other crops, such as bananas, were introduced from Southeast Asia.
Livestock also came from outside Africa. Cattle were introduced from Asia, as probably were domestic sheep and goats. Horses were apparently introduced by the Hyksos invaders of Egypt (1780-1560 B.C.) and then spread across the Sudan to West Africa. Rock paintings in the Sahara indicate that horses and chariots were used to traverse the desert and that by 300-200 B.C., there were trade routes across the Sahara. Horses were adopted by peoples of the West African savannah, and later their powerful cavalry forces allowed them to carve out large empires. Finally, the camel was introduced around the first century A.D. This was an important innovation, because the camel’s abilities to thrive in harsh desert conditions and to carry large loads cheaply made it an effective and efficient means of transportation. The camel transformed the desert from a barrier into a still difficult, but more accessible, route of trade and communication.
Iron came from West Asia, although its routes of diffusion were somewhat different than those of agriculture. Most of Africa presents a curious case in which societies moved directly from a technology of stone to iron without passing through the intermediate stage of copper or bronze metallurgy, although some early copper-working sites have been found in West Africa. Knowledge of iron making penetrated into the forest and savannahs of West Africa at roughly the same time that iron making was reaching Europe. Evidence of iron making has been found in Nigeria, Ghana, and Mali.
This technological shift cause profound changes in the complexity of African societies. Iron represented power. In West Africa the blacksmith who made tools and
weapons had an important place in society, often with special religious powers and functions. Iron hoes, which made the land more productive, and iron weapons, which made the warrior more powerful, had symbolic meaning in a number of West Africa societies. Those who knew the secrets of making iron gained ritual and sometimes political power.
Unlike in the Americas, where metallurgy was a very late and limited development, Africans had iron from a relatively early date, developing ingenious furnaces to produce the high heat needed for production and to control the amount of air that reached the carbon and iron ore necessary for making iron. Much of Africa moved right into the Iron Age, taking the basic technology and adapting it to local conditions and resources.
The diffusion of agriculture and later of iron was accompanied by a great movement of people who may have carried these innovations. These people probably originated in eastern Nigeria. Their migration may have been set in motion by an increase in population caused by a movement of peoples fleeing the desiccation, or drying up, of the Sahara. They spoke a language, proto-Bantu (“Bantu” means “the people”), which is the parent tongue of a language of a large number of Bantu languages still spoken throughout sub-Sahara Africa. Why and how these people spread out into central and southern Africa remains a mystery, but archaeologists believe that their iron weapons allowed them to conquer their hunting-gathering opponents, who still used stone implements. Still, the process is uncertain, and peaceful migration—or simply rapid demographic growth—may have also caused the Bantu explosion.
在非洲，早在公元前 3000 年以前就有了农业的迹象。它可能是独立发展的，但很多学者认为农业和铁器在非洲的传播将费中与近东的中心和地中海世界联系了起来。就是现在的撒哈拉沙漠地区的不断变得干旱使得很多人向南迁徙到撒哈拉沙漠以南的非洲地区。这些部落起初分散的定居，并仍靠打猎和采集维生，尽管是在靠近湖泊和河流的地区人们以捕鱼为业，有较稳定的食物供给，聚集了较多的人口。农业技术可能来自于近东最终为非洲人所知，因为最初驯化的农作物是起源于西亚而不是非洲的小米和高粱。一旦种植的思想传播开来，非洲人就开始培育他们自己的农作物，比如某些水稻，并且他们一直愿意接受新的外来作物。人们认为驯化非洲作物的地区从埃塞俄比亚一直延伸到苏丹的南部，再到西非。接下来，其他的作物，比如香蕉，就从南亚传入到非洲了。
家禽也来自于非洲以外的地区。牛是从亚洲引入的，家养绵羊和山羊也可能是这样的。马匹显然是由欧洲的 Hyksos 入侵者（1780-1560B.C.）引入的之后就从苏丹传到西非。撒哈拉石画表明马匹和马车曾被用于穿越沙漠，并且，在公元前 300 到到 200 年间，有商队横穿沙哈拉沙漠的路线。西非大草原上的人们使用马匹，后来他们强大的骑兵力量使他们缔造了庞大的帝国。最后，骆驼大约在公元一世纪被引入到非洲。这是一次重要革新，因为骆驼有能力生存在恶劣的沙漠环境，另外，骆驼可以便宜的运输大量的载荷，这使得它们成为了一种方便高效的运输方式。骆驼使得沙漠从障碍转换为一条虽依然艰难但已经更加容易接近的商路和交流通道。
B was understood意为"理解、懂得、熟悉、推断”