African History

A woman throws flowers on the boxes containing human remains at Waldfriedhof cemetery.

Berlin Holds Funeral for Bone Fragments Linked to Nazi Research

Discovered in 2014, the remains of at least 54 victims were buried at a ceremony this week

President John F. Kennedy meets with William Fitzjohn, Sierra Leone's charge d’affairs in Washington, in the Oval Office on April 27, 1961.

The African Diplomats Who Protested Segregation in the U.S.

Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy publicly apologized after restaurants refused to serve Black representatives of newly independent nations

This 1605 drawing of a Black sumo wrestler may depict Yasuke.

Who Was Yasuke, Japan's First Black Samurai?

In the late 16th century, the enigmatic warrior fought alongside a feudal lord dubbed the "Great Unifier"

The 17th-century fort at Portobelo, built by enslaved laborers, overlooks the bay area where some of the earliest maroons settled after gaining their freedom.

A New Discovery Puts Panama as the Site of the First Successful Slave Rebellion

Deep in the archives, a historian rescues the tale of brave maroons

Our ten-most read stories of the year featured the all-woman army of the African kingdom of Dahomey, mischievous felines, J.R.R. Tolkien and more.

Our Top Ten Stories of 2022

From a teen inventor to invasive fish to lost cities of the Amazon, these were our most-read articles of the year

“I want people to see the convergence and similarities in all of these Black lives," says Chance the Rapper, who is planning a free music festival in Ghana.

The History Behind Chance the Rapper's Black Star Line Festival

The event is named after an early 20th-century shipping line created by Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey

Egyptologist Zahi Hawass is leading a push to repatriate the Rosetta Stone, the Dendera Zodiac and the bust of Nefertiti to Egypt.

Who Gets to Tell the Story of Ancient Egypt?

On the eve of the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, some of the country's artifacts, from the Rosetta Stone to the bust of Nefertiti, remain overseas

This year's picks include Half American, Saving Yellowstone and River of the Gods.

The Ten Best History Books of 2022

Our favorite titles of the year resurrect forgotten histories and illuminate how the nation ended up where it is today

Smithsonian officials announce the transfer of ownership of 29 works of art to Nigeria; 20 will be returned (above: Bell, Benin kingdom court style, Edo artist,18th century), while nine will remain on loan.

The Smithsonian Returns a Trove of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

The transfer of ownership of 29 artworks is the first to be carried out under a new policy and practice

Artist's rendering of John Canoe (Jan Kwaw), the Ahanta king who likely inspired the Bahamas' Junkanoo festival

The Gold Coast King Who Fought the Might of Europe's Slave Traders

New research reveals links between the 18th-century Ahanta leader John Canoe and the Caribbean festival Junkanoo

“The first people to look at the Rosetta Stone thought it would take two weeks to decipher,” says Edward Dolnick, author of The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone. “It ended up taking 20 years.”

Two Hundred Years Ago, the Rosetta Stone Unlocked the Secrets of Ancient Egypt

French scholar Jean-François Champollion announced his decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs on September 27, 1822

Bakhtiari nomads in the Zagros Mountains of Iran in June 2017

How Nomads Shaped Centuries of Civilization

A new book celebrates the achievements of wanderers, whose stories have long been overlooked

The Woman King tells the story of the Agojie, an elite, all-woman army in the West African kingdom of Dahomey.

The Real Warriors Behind 'The Woman King'

A new film stars Viola Davis as the leader of the Agojie, the all-woman army of the African kingdom of Dahomey

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How One Historian Located Liberia’s Elusive Founding Document

The piece of paper went missing for nearly 200 years, leaving some scholars to question whether it even existed

Models holding hands in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2019

How Fashion Helped Shape Africa's Cultural Renaissance

A new exhibition at the V&A in London explores historic and contemporary African designers, photographers, models, makeup artists and illustrators

This painting by Richard Caton Woodville Jr. depicts the Battle of Omdurman.

Sudanese Museums Call for Return of Stolen Artifacts

Colonizers took the items after a deadly battle in the late 19th century

As of June 15, the World Health Organization had recorded a total of 2,103 confirmed monkeypox cases in 42 countries. Pictured: a colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox virus particles (green) cultivated and purified from cell culture

What You Need to Know About the History of Monkeypox

Mired in misconception, the poxvirus is endemic in certain African countries but was rarely reported in Europe and the U.S. until recently

The anchor of Industry, a whaling ship that sank in 1836 in the Gulf of Mexico 

A Shipwreck, a Robot and an Archival Treasure Hunt Reveal the Diverse History of the Whaling Industry

Free Black Americans and Native Americans once worked on the "Industry," a whaling ship whose wreck was recently identified in the Gulf of Mexico

A typical Making the Road trip to South Africa includes a visit to Soweto, a township outside of Johannesburg that was the site of anti-apartheid organizing and violence for years.

Tourism Gets a Refresh in the Hands of Activists Seeking to Decolonize the Industry

Operators practicing 'solidarity tourism' push back against travel that can be environmentally and socially destructive

The Smithsonian has 39 of the Benin pieces in its collections, above: Commemorative head of a king, Edo artist, 18th century.

The Smithsonian's Plan to Return the Benin Bronzes Comes After Years of Relationship Building

The ground-breaking move heralds a new path for interactions between African and Western institutions

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