Ancient African Monuments and Architectural Wonders


  1. Adam’s Calendar, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Adam’s Calendar is a mysterious ensemble of rocks arranged in a circular shape around two stones boulders. Located  in the hills of  Emngwenya (formerly known as Waterval Boven) in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Adam’s Calendar have been in existence for 75 000 years is aligned with the geographic cardinal points of planet Earth, as well as marking solstices and equinoxes, and is considered one of the earliest monolithic calendars.

The calendar can still be used accurately today, and provides insight into African societies’ understanding of the sun’s movement. There is also evidence of trade with civilisations outside of southern Africa. Artifacts such as coins, swords, symbols and statues from ancient Egypt, Greece and the Inca Empire have been found in the area.  The calendar stands as an example of the earliest human innovation, and visiting it will give a perspective on how long ago our ability to adapt and invent began.

  1. The Step Pyramid, Egypt

The Step Pyramid was built in ancient Egypt (Kemet) in  2667–2648 B.C.,  the Step Pyramid, also known as The Pyramid of Djoser, was the first stone building in history and the first of the many pyramids to appear during the following 1,000 years. The Step Pyramid was a tomb for third dynasty Pharaoh Djoser and members of his family, designed by Imhotep, the first known architect, engineer, and physician in early history.

The structure started off as a mastaba tomb — a flat-roofed building with sloping sides — and, through a series of expansions, evolved into a 197-foot-high (60 meters) pyramid, with six layers, one built on top of the other.

According to, the pyramid was constructed using 11.6 million cubic feet (330,400 cubic meters) of limestone and clay. The tunnels beneath the pyramid form a labyrinth of about 3.5 miles (5.5 kilometers) long.

  1. The Temple Complex of Karnak, Egypt

The temple complex of Karnak  is one of the most impressive sites in all of Egypt and it’s the largest religious compound ever built by man. Karnak is actually the site’s modern name. Its ancient name was Ipet-isut, meaning “The Most Select (or Sacred) of Places.”

Construction work began in 16th century B.C. and continued past the era of Pharaoh Ramses II, from approximately 1391-1351. The complex consists of four main parts, the Precinct of Amon-Re, the Precinct of Montu, the Precinct of Mut and the Temple of Amenhotep IV (dismantled).

There are also a few smaller temples and sanctuaries located outside the enclosing walls of the four main parts, and several avenues of ram-headed sphinxes connecting the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Amon-Re, and Luxor Temple.

These magnificent structures represent the combined achievement of many generations of builders in ancient Africa. Approximately 30 pharaohs contributed to the structures, enabling it to reach a size, complexity and diversity not seen elsewhere.

  1. The Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt

The Sphinx of Giza is one of the largest and most recognizable statues in the world. The half-man, half-lion colossus of stone was sculpted 4,500 years ago (c. 2558–2532 B.C.), although some researchers date it thousands of years older than that.

The statue, with the body of a lion and the face of a man, is said by some Egyptologists to have been created in the image of 4th dynasty Pharaoh Khafra.

It is the largest monolith statue in the world, standing 241 feet (73.5 meters) long, 63 feet (19.3 meters) wide, and 66.34 feet (20.22 meters) high.

The ancient Egyptians did not actually call the structure the Sphinx; that was the name given by the Greeks, who arrived in the region around the sixth century B.C., long after the structure was built.

  1. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Pyramids of Giza are the three fourth-dynasty pyramids (c. 2575 – c. 2465 BCE) erected on the rocky plateau of the west bank of the Nile River near Al-Jīzah (Giza) in Egypt. The structures were built as burial tombs for three fourth-dynasty pharaohs, Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, and are named after each king respectively.

The Great Pyramid is the northernmost and oldest of the group. It was built for Khufu, who was the second king of the fourth dynasty. The edifice is the largest of the three, with the length of each side at the base averaging 755.75 feet (230 meters), and its original height towering at 481.4 feet (147 meters).

Perhaps the most colossal single building ever erected on the planet, its sides rise at an angle of 51°52′ and are accurately oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass. Approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone were cut, transported and assembled to create the 5.75-million-ton structure, which is widely seen as a masterpiece of technical skill and engineering ability.

  1. Nubian Pyramids and Temples, Sudan

The Nubian pyramids and temple was built between 1500 and 1085 B.C. Egyptian conquest and domination of Nubia was achieved. This conquest ushered in the Napatan Phase of Nubian history, the birth of the Kingdom of Kush. During this phase there were numerous pyramids and temples erected.

The Nubian pyramids were built from the fourth century B.C. to third century A.D.

Nubia, which was known as Kush and  modern-day Sudan, rivaled its neighbor Egypt in wealth and power, and both empires mutually influenced each other. Nubia has 223 pyramids, twice the number in Egypt. Prior to the Kushites building their pyramids, there had been no pyramid construction in Egypt and the Nile Valley for more than 500 years.

  1. Lalibela, Ethiopia

Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia, is famous around the world for its monolithic rock-cut churches carved from the living rock, which play an important part in the history of rock-cut architecture.

The town is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country.

The Bete Giyorgis, or Church of St. George, is one of 11 monolithic churches in the city. Carved from solid red volcanic rock in the 12th century, it is the best known and last built of the 11 churches in the Lalibela area, and has been referred to as “the eighth wonder of the world.”

Lalibela, the king of Ethiopia who the city was named after, sought to recreate Jerusalem, and structured the churches’ landscape and religious sites to that end.

  1. The Great Mosque of Djenne, Mali

The Great Mosque of Djenné is the largest mud brick building in the world and is considered by many architects to be the greatest achievement of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style, albeit with definite Islamic influences.

The mosque is located in the city of Djenné, Mali, on the flood plain of the Bani River. The first mosque on the site was built around the 13th century, but the current structure dates from 1907. As well as being the centre of the community of Djenné, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Africa. Along with the “Old Towns of Djenné” it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.


  1. Monolith– a large single upright block of stone, especially one shaped into or serving as a pillar or monument.
  2. Monument– a building, structure, or site that is of historical importance or interest. It can also be defined as a statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a notable person or event.
  3. Artifacts– an object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest.
  4. Tomb– a large vault, typically an underground one, for burying the dead. an enclosure for a corpse cut in the earth or in rock. a monument to the memory of a dead person, erected over their burial place.
  5. B.C– meaning Before Christ it is a term  used to label or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars




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