In about 300 CE, camels were becoming more common in the Sahara. The ability of camels to survive in the desert enabled increasing numbers of traders to travel across the dry region. They gathered in large camel caravans and traveled along established trade routes. Most of these trans-Saharan trade routes began or ended in the area that became the core of the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai.
The merchants in the western Sahel could sell the traders the goods, food, and water that the travelers needed to continue. These things were taxed by the kings in the area. The people of the western Sahel were the middlemen who controlled the trade. Trade provided goods from south of the Sahara to the people of North Africa, the Mediterranean, and, later, Europe. These goods from the south included gold, ivory, kola nuts
and slaves. For this reason, modern Ghana was formerly known as the Gold Coast, while the modern country of Côte d'Ivoire preserves its heritage as the Ivory Coast. The people of the south traded for salt, silk, spices, coffee, and other goods from the north. The more people on both sides of the trade were introduced to new goods, the more they wanted. And the middlemen certainly profited.
Northern and Eastern Migrations:
Around 2000 BCE, people of the upper Nile area and Southwest Asia migrated along the coast of the Red Sea and settled the lands known as the Horn of Africa. They blended a pastoral and an agricultural lifestyle. Some farmed, and others herded livestock. Located near the great civilizations of North Africa and Southwest Asia, these people also became traders. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians referred to this area as Punt. Around 700 BCE, one group of people emerged as dominant in the region. They established the D'mt (pronounced Da'maat) kingdom. This kingdom began to trade with interior African peoples as well as with merchants of the Arabian Peninsula. By about 300 BCE, D'mt had lost control over port cities that had begun to amass their own wealth and power.
Also around 2000 BCE, an even larger migration got under way-that of the Bantu-speaking peoples based in the forested lands near the Niger and Benue Rivers. The first wave of the Bantu migrations would occur over the course of 2,000 years. The Bantu, who were primarily farmers, spread south and east, blending with local hunter-gatherers who inhabited the areas that they settled. Historians debate the causes of the Bantu migrations but many attribute the movement to overpopulation. Too many people in the lands of the Niger and Benue River Valleys may have caused some to seek out new opportunities-and resources-elsewhere. As the Bantu peoples spread, they carried farming with them. Over time, the descendants of the first wave of migrants would push farther south, spreading their language and culture throughout the region. In time, as more people settled along the coast, they, too, would become traders.
Government: They were never united as a single empire. Instead, the Maya lived in individual political states that were linked together through trade, political alliances, and tribute obligations. Some of these states were independent, while others were part of larger political hierarchies. The Maya states were initially governed by simple chiefdoms. By the Classic Period, Maya governance had taken on the form of powerful centralized leaders who legitimized their authority through their political connections and their divine lineages. Individuals who disobeyed their rulers faced severe punishment because the Maya people believed that obedience to their leader was critical to maintaining the harmony of the Maya universe. Human sacrifice had begun prior to the Classic Period, and was used as a tool of social and religious control to demonstrate the power of the ruler and the gods.
Social Structure: Maya society was rigidly divided between nobles, commoners, serfs, and slaves. The noble class was complex and specialized. Noble status and the occupation in which a noble served were passed on through elite family lineages. Nobles served as rulers, government officials, tribute collectors, military leaders, high priests, local administrators, cacao plantation managers, and trade expedition leaders. Nobles were literate and wealthy, and typically lived in the central areas of Maya cities.
Commoners worked as farmers, laborers, and servants. It is believed that some commoners became quite wealthy through their work as artisans and merchants, and that upward mobility was allowed between classes through service in the military. Regardless, commoners were forbidden from wearing the clothes and symbols of nobility, and could not purchase or use luxury and exotic items. Commoners generally lived outside the central areas of towns and cities and worked individual and communal plots of land.
The Maya had a system of serfdom and slavery. Serfs typically worked lands that belonged to the ruler or local town leader. There was an active slave trade in the Maya region, and commoners and elites were both permitted to own slaves. Individuals were enslaved as a form of punishment for certain crimes and for failing to pay back their debts. Prisoners of war who were not sacrificed would become slaves, and impoverished individuals sometimes sold themselves or family members into slavery. Slavery status was not passed on to the children of slaves. However, unwanted orphan children became slaves and were sometimes sacrificed during religious rituals. Slaves were usually sacrificed when their owners died so that they could continue in their service after death. If a man married a slave woman, he became a slave of the woman's owner. This was was also the case for women who married male slaves.
Religion: Mayan religion was characterized by the worship of nature gods (especially the gods of sun, rain and corn), a priestly class, the importance of astronomy and astrology, rituals of human sacrifice, and the building of elaborate pyramidical temples.
Government: EMPRIE: Strong broad empire through trade and war.
Social Structure: individuals were identified as nobles (pipiltin), commoners (macehualtin), serfs, or slaves. The noble class consisted of government and military leaders, high level priests, and lords (tecuhtli). Priests had their own internal class system and were expected to be celibate and to refrain from alcohol. Failure to do so would result in serious punishment or death. The tecuhtli included landowners, judges, and military commanders. Nobles were entitled to receive tribute from commoners in the form of goods, services, and labor. Noble status was passed on through male and female lineages, and only nobles were permitted to display their wealth by wearing decorated capes and jewelry.The commoner class consisted of farmers, artisans, merchants, and low-level priests. Artisans and traveling merchants enjoyed the greatest amount of wealth and prestige within this class, and had their own self-governing trade guilds. Commoners generally resided in calpulli (also referred to as calpolli), or neighborhood wards, which were led by a single nobleman and a council of commoner elders.
The Aztecs additionally had landless serfs and slaves. Serfs worked land that was owned by nobles and did not live in the calpulli. Individuals became slaves (tlacotin) as a form of punishment for certain crimes or for failure to pay tribute. Prisoners of war who were not used as human sacrifices became slaves. An individual could voluntarily sell himself or his children into slavery to pay back a debt (the latter required permission of the court). Slaves had the right to marry, to have children, to substitute another individual in their place, and to buy their freedom. Slaveowners were responsible for housing and feeding their slaves, and slaves generally could not be resold. They were usually freed when their owners died, and could also gain their freedom by marrying their owner. Aztecs were not born slaves and could not inherit this status from their parents.
Women had limited leadership roles within the Aztec empire. There is evidence that they had administrative roles in the calpulli and markets, and also worked as midwives and priestesses. However, the top administrative positions were limited to men, and women were not permitted to serve as warriors.
Religion: There was little difference between Aztec religion and civil society. The tlacatecuhtli , or "chief of men." controlled all the religious ceremonies and was also the military leader. Under the tlacatecuhtli were several religious and other offices which included military generals. Priests and priestesses were very important in society. They acted as doctors, and taught science, art, writing, music, dance, history, and counting. They also knew astronomy and astrology. They had to perform difficult ceremonies.
Religion played an important part in Aztecs' lives and was very complicated because they adopted many aspects of the people that they conquered. They had three dominate gods: Huitzilopochtli ("hummingbird wizard," the native and chief god of the Tenochca, Huitzilopochtli was the war and sun god), Tezcatlipoca ("Smoking Mirror," chief god of the Aztecs in general), and Quetzalcoatl ("Sovereign Plumed Serpent," widely worshipped throughout Mesoamerica and the god of civilization, the priesthood, and learning). Below these three gods were four creating gods who kept themselves from the human world. Under these were a large number of other gods, the most important were Tlaloc, the Rain God; Chalchihuitlicue, the god of growth and Xipe, the "Flayed One," a god connected with spring. The Aztecs worshipped about 1,000 gods, but the the sun god was the most important. Religious ceremonies were held in a temple called a teocalli. The temples had pools for ceremonial cleansing, gardens, living quarters for a priest, and racks to hold the skulls of victims.
Government: They had a federal government and four provincial governments. Certainly the federal system was headed by Sapa Inca himself. Inca noble men were the head of the other provincial governments.
Social Structure: Class system: INCA: SAPA Inca: Only one at top
Royalty: son of SAPA, wife, family
Nobility of blood
Nobility of Privilege
Ayllu: general public
Newly conquered races
Servers of Inca and Emprire
Religion: Inca believed in numerous diverse deities, which means they were polytheist. But the Inca had two main gods; Inti, the Sun god, and Viracocha, the creator god. The Inca royal family was apparently descendants of the Sun god and that's what made the family so important to the empire at that time. Also Viracocha, the creator god, was believed to have formed the Inca people out of clay and gave the people languages and songs, legend has it. And he was also believed to have created the elements of the sky; the sun, moon and stars. Many more less significant gods or goddesses were also worshipped by the Incas; such as Ca Ata Quilla, the goddess of the moon, Apo, the mountain god, Mama Allpa, the goddess of earth and harvest, and so forth. The Incan people would often prove their great dedication to the gods by building stone fortresses upon high mountain tops or sacred areas. Also they would occasionally sacrifice animals and rarely children to their idols, but only if they thought the gods were enraged or if rare occasions were held. Since their religion was so close to nature, certain objects were named somewhat to do with nature. These objects were called 'Huaca' (anything sacred); most well known huacas are gold, which were believed to be the sweat of the sun, and silver, which were believed to be tears of the moon. Huacas could also be elements of earth, human built values, or places; such as temples, rivers, cities and mountains. An also very interesting topic about their religion is that they believed in afterlife and cared deeply for the dead; and the bodies of the dead were also believed to be huacas. But these are just the most well known facts about their religious beliefs. To a great extent of unknown and interesting details are yet to be discovered.