Architectural, just like some other aspects of culture in Africa, is diverse. Looking at the history of Africa, Africans have their own architectural tradition. For some centuries, Africa architecture has been influencing both internal culture and external cultures. It has been source of inspiration to our major cities. Africa architecture designs vary from regions to regions as the materials used differs. The West Africa for mud, the Central Africa for thatch/wood, the horn of Africa uses Stone and mortar while the Southeast and Southern Africa for stone and thatch/wood. However, in the South and West of the Sahara, little is known of architectural designs.
However there are a lot of ancient buildings in Africa of which most of them got ruined. For instance, the Kilwa Kisiwane in Tazania got ruined. This was a famous East African seaport around 13th to 16th century. The Kilwa merchant dealt with silver, Arabian crockery, gold, pearls, perfumes, Persian earthenware and Chinese porcelain. There are still a lot of ancient buildings which are not standing anymore but have become scraps in the ancient times. The pyramids of Egypt is one of the Africa greatest architectural achievement not only Africa, the world despite the fact that it origins in a funerary context. It is also the famous structure in the whole Africa.
Let us take a look at the ancient structures in Africa. You will be surprised that most ancient structure is in Egypt.
Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt (2667–2648 BC)
This is the oldest building in Africa which is still standing. The engineer Imhotep, an architect as well as a physician, conceived the design of this ancient design. This pyramid may be a step pyramid. It contrasted with smooth sided pyramid later developed. However, these steps had a significant meaning. ‘ Mastaba’ which means ‘ house of eternity’ is the name of each steps taken and every step serve as tomb. The successful stacking of several mastabas resulted into the structure which was fit for the burial of the Pharaoh, Djoser.
Pyramid of Meidum, Egypt (c. 2580 BC)
Situated in the Lower Egypt south of Cairo, this pyramid can also be spelt as Maidum or Maydum. This is the second oldest building in Africa. This structure was originally constructed for the Third Dynasty pharaoh Huni however Pharaoh Sneferu continued the work on the pyramid. The successor of Imhotep conceived the designs of this structure. Unfortunately, this building collapsed probably because Imhotep’s successor experimented with modifications to Imhotep’s design.
Bent Pyramid, Egypt (c. 2580 BC)
This pyramid which has another version known as the Red pyramid was constructed by Pharaoh Sneferu. When you see the pyramid, you won’t be surprised by its name because the pyramid appears as the name describe. It sides rising steeply from the desert sand however near the top the incline is shallow. Thus, making it bend at the side. Initially, the sides are meant to be smooth but history has it that during its construction when the constructors realized that it was going to collapse. They abruptly changed it to a shallower incline to save it. The lesson learnt from the bent pyramid was an inspiration for the red pyramid.
Red Pyramid, Egypt (c. 2580 BC)
This pyramid is a little bit older than the pyramid of Giza. It is also referred to as the North pyramid. This is the largest of the three pyramids found in Dahshur Necropolis, Cairo. It gets its name from the colour of the limestone which it is constructed with, reddish hue. It is the third biggest pyramid in Egypt and just like the pyramid of Giza, it has smooth sides. In the ancient times, the pyramid was not red because the Tura limestone when enclosed was white.
Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt (c. 2560 BC)
This is the most popular pyramid in Egypt and biggest of the pyramids in Egypt. It is arguably the most famous in Africa. This pyramid can also be referred to as the Pyramid of Cheops or the Pyramid of Khufu. Actually, this pyramid has been included into the seven wonders of the ancient world. According to beliefs, the building was completed within ten to twenty years. This building was the tallest manufactured in the world for over 3,800 years. Assumptions were made that during the recent times, the pyramid has the King’s chamber, the Queen’s chamber and one lower chamber. The pyramid surface area is smooth. Similarly to other pyramids, the pyramid of Giza is surrounded by a complex which has little satellite pyramids and temples.
Pyramid of Khafre, Egypt (c. 2500 BC)
This pyramid is also called the Pyramid of Chepren. In addition to the Pyramid of Giza, this is the second largest and tallest in Egypt. It was the burial site for Khafre, a fourth dynasty Pharaoh. Khafre also referred to as Chepren ruled from c. 2558 and 2532 BC. A variety of temples surround this pyramid. Few of these temples are protected. In the ancient times, there were about fifty of Pharaoh’s statue but they were however destroyed then and were probably used as recycles. Some historians said that Ramses II was responsible for the destructions of the statues. A satellite and few blocks are left at the site.
Yeha Temple, Ethiopia (500 BC)
We have however, looked at different pyramids in Egypt. Yeha Temple which is referred to as Terrific Temple of the Sun and Moon, is situated in a village called Yeha in the northern Tigray Area of Ethiopia. This old Ethiopian structure is the oldest and still standing structure in Ethiopia. The construction style is that of the Sabaean style of architecture. According to some oral sources, this structure is standing because it was developed with firm materials and it was also converted into ADinto, a Christian church in the sixth century.