A mason is someone who is skilled in building from stone. Not to be confused with the fraternity Masonry or FreeMasons who join together to discuss and change world issues. People always get scared when you mention the word Mason or Freemason, because they automatically think of the Illuminati. Yes there are secret societies and the Freemasons are one of those but why are they called that? As stated earlier a stone mason was used to describe someone who’s occupation was building. I guess Freemasons use that name because they are interested in building and constructing the affairs of the world. I could go deeper down this rabbit hole but they are not the focal point of this post today. Living in Dubai I have become more aware of my fascination with architecture. Dubai is home to the largest skyscraper in the world, the Burj Khalifa and since I’ve been living here I’ve been a witness to hundreds of buildings popping up at a rapid rate, and I’m in awe of how clever mankind is to make such elaborate structures. Stone masonry however did not originate here, the first known architects of the ancient world can be traced back to Africa.
We cannot talk about architecture without mentioning Egypt. Around 3000bc is the date given to the first architect to be called by name. His name is Imhotep, he was an architect, physician and governor to the Pharaoh Djoser. He is recognised for building the one of the first monumental stone buildings, known as the step pyramid (or the Pyramid of Djsoer) in Sakkara. Although he wasn’t born into royalty his intelligence placed him before kings. His story is actually similar to the story of Joseph in the bible, but that’s another post. As well as being a skilful mason he was also known to cure diseases such as appendicitis and arthritis by extracting the medicine from plants. With this in mind, is it safe to say that the other pyramids were built by Africans also? Even though they have been attributed to everyone/thing else including Aliens!
There are more pyramid in Sudan than in Egypt. A total of 220 could be found there until the early 1800s, in a place previously called Meroe which was the heart of the Land of Kush. The purpose of these pyramids were for the burial of the royals, many Nubian royals were buried here, but unfortunately the majority of these monuments were desecrated by invaders looking for gold within the tombs. As you can see from the picture below many of the tops have been destroyed.
While we are on the topic of pyramids, these mud/clay pyramids were found in among the ancient Igbo people of Nigeria. In Nsude, Enugu state of Nigeria 10 circular pyramids were believed to be used for iron smelting, other have said that they were symbolic of ascension to the afterlife. In the Igbo tradition mountains and hills were said to be the abode of deities. Needless to say if you went to that part of Nigeria today you wouldn’t find them. Admittedly when I first saw these pyramids I thought they looked like piles of poo, LOL probably because they are made out of mud, but their pyramids are no different to the pyramids you see around the world. They had five tiers which is quite common for pyramid building, check out the other designs below.
The structures you see below, upon first sight you may think it was in the countryside of England somewhere, but this stone kingdom was built over nine hundred years ago, its called great Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe actually means venerated houses and no wonder it was named Great Zimbabwe because this city was said to have housed at least 18,000 people probably from the Bantu tribes, either Lemba, Venda or Gokomere. These structures used a method called dry stonewalling which takes a high level of skilled masonry to construct.
On your travels (whether on a plane or on Google) be sure to check these places out, if you haven’t done so already. If you like history like me, these places should definitely be added to your itinerary.
Peace and Love x