History of Niger

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This is the history of Niger. See also the history of Africa and the history of West Africa.

Contents

Pre-historic Niger

Humans have lived in what is now Niger from the earliest times. 2 to 3.5 Million year old Australopithecus bahrelghazali remains have been found in neighboring Chad.

Archeologists in Niger have much work to do, with little known of the prehistory of the societies who inhabited the south, the home of the vast majority of modern Nigeriens.[1] The deserts and the mountains of the north, though, have garnered attention for the ancient abandoned cities and pre-historic rock carvings found in the Aïr Mountains and the Ténéré desert.

Considerable evidence indicates that about 60,000 years ago, humans inhabited what has since become the desolate Sahara of northern Niger. Later, on what was then huge fertile grasslands, from at least 7,000 BCE there was pastoralism, herding of sheep and goats, large settlements and pottery. Cattle were introduced to the Central Sahara (Ahaggar) from 4,000 to 3,500 BCE. Remarkable rock paintings, many found in the Aïr Mountains, dated 3,500 to 2,500 BCE, portray vegetation and animal presence rather different from modern expectations.[2]

One recent find suggests what is now the Sahara of northeast Niger was home to a succession of Holocene era societies. One Saharan site illustrated how sedentary hunter-fisher-gatherers lived at the edge of shallow lakes around 7700–6200 BCE, but disappeared during a period of extreme drought that may have lasted for a millennium over 6200–5200 BCE. Several former northern villages and archaeological sites date from the Green Sahara period of 7500-7000 to 3500-3000 BCE.[3] When the climate returned to savanna grasslands—wetter than today's climate—and lakes reappeared in what is the modern Ténére desert, a population practicing hunting and fishing, as well as cattle husbandry. This last population survived until almost historical times, from 5200–2500 BCE, when the current arid period began.[4]

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