Berbers: Ancient Origins of North African Civilization

Berbers: Ancient Origins of North African Civilization

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[Music] libya tunisia algeria and morocco boast some of the richest and unique histories in the world here is the home of an enigmatic tribal people who inhabited the region for thousands of years deeply influenced the fates of ancient empires and centuries later would embrace the islamic faith on their terms to become some of the most powerful peoples of the medieval mediterranean this latest showcase of the
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civilizations of africa will be a two-part mini-series on the vibrant berber peoples with part one covering their ancient history to the introduction of islam the sponsor of today's video magellan tv is the favorite documentary platform of kings and generals we've been enjoying our magellan tv subscription and hope that our viewers love it too magellan tv is a documentary streaming service run by filmmakers that has over 3 000 documentaries among them hundreds of historical documentaries if you want to learn more about africa
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magellan tv has you covered leptis magna roman africa is a perfect intersection of roman and african history while ancient egypt life and death in the valley of the king is a fascinating and in-depth documentary on the tombs of the pharaohs you can watch both anytime anywhere on your television laptop or mobile device and it's compatible with most devices our viewers can now take advantage of an exclusive offer 30 off an annual membership this gives you an entire year for less than 3.50 a
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month every documentary we've watched has been worth double that and there are now 3 000 in the magellan tv collection this offer is available to returning users too simply click on the link in the description to claim your discounted annual membership today support our channel and do that at try.magellantv.com kings and generals start your free trial today broadly speaking the berbers are a people indigenous to a huge swath of land
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known as tamaska which stretches from western egypt to the atlantic coast and penetrates deep past the atlas mountains into the sahara desert most of this region is incredibly inhospitable save for the most densely populated portion along the fertile mediterranean and atlantic coastlines known as the maghreb never a single people the berbers were divided into many diverse tribes whose cultures dialects and social structures although closely related to one another
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differ from region to region the title berber is an exonym coming from the ancient greek barbaroi sharing the same root from which the word barbarian is derived while berber is still the most common nomenclature in the west the berbers refer to themselves with a variety of names in their native afro-asiatic languages chief among them the amazir a title which typically translates to the free people we will use both names throughout this video
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over thousands of years amazing society has been molded to thrive in the harsh desert environment traditionally the majority of their tribes lived by driving flocks of livestock between pockets of oases in a semi-nomadic lifestyle many tribes took advantage of the fertile mediterranean coastline to establish themselves as sophisticated agriculturalists while others took to commerce becoming intrepid camelback merchants who braved the trade routes of the
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sahara for the gold of west and central africa the ancestors of the amazing have been living throughout tamaska for at least twelve thousand years however save for the enigmatic to finic script used by some tribes the majority of ancient berbers were non-literate as a result their pre-islamic history is passed together through the external accounts of foreign empires the amazing first appear in the historical record
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more than 3 000 years ago in the ledgers of the new kingdom of egypt who frequently interacted with the ancient libyans a berber people ancient egyptians depicted their western neighbors very differently to themselves usually as tattooed bearded and pale-skinned men and tended to look down upon them as little more than primitive oasis hopping goat herders despite that we know that they served in the armies of ramses as horsemen and their largest tribe the meshwesh
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even managed to conquer parts of egypt in 945 bc establishing themselves as pharaohs of egypt's 22nd and 23rd dynasties until they were pushed out 200 years later in 814 bc phoenicians from tyre established the city of carthage on the coast of modern day tunisia in time this oligarchic merchant state would expand its control over much of the berber-dominated african coast some berbers resisted carthaginian rule
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while many others did the opposite enrolling in carthage's mercenary army whatever their allegiance the lightly armored amazing mounted javelin throwers became famous throughout the mediterranean for their mobility speed and deadliness another classic civilization to come into contact with the berbers was the ancient greeks who in the 7th century bc colonized cyrenaica the name of the region derives from a legendary lion hunting berber warriors known as cyrei who according to
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tradition became a protector of the greek colonists the greeks in their walled coastal cities intermingled with the berber around them sharing many aspects of their cultures with one another the berbers were traditionally a polytheist people with a pantheon deeply influenced by the phoenicians egyptians and greeks however the native amazing religion also influenced those civilizations as herodotus claimed that quintessential characters from greek myth like medusa
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the gorgons and even poseidon himself had roots among the folklore of the berbers while early 20th century scholar dr wallis budge asserted that the egyptian god osiris had his origins among the native tribes of libya another prominent aspect of the berber faith was ancestor worship a later roman author pomponius mela claimed that the berbers considered the spirits of the dead to hold great power today the remnants of great mausoleums throughout the maghreb
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coast are a memory of a time when the amazing people looked to their forefathers for spiritual guidance let us now step back into the march of history by jumping into the third century bc when the iconic punic wars erupted between carthage and rome various berber tribes fought alongside both mediterranean superpowers despite the best alp crossing efforts of hannibal the carthaginians were decisively defeated in the second punic war
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losing all their territory outside of their tunisian heartland the victorious romans bequeathed much of the north african coast to the amazing tribes that had been allied to them these tribes subsequently went on to form the united kingdom of new media this kingdom alongside the neighboring kingdom of mauritania became the first true states in the berber homeland to be ruled by the berbers as opposed to being ruled by foreign empires or divided into smaller tribal units
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as the amazing so often were harmony between rome and the desert dwellers did not last long and in 112 bc war broke out between the expanding republic and the charismatic king jagertha of numidia although the amazing monarch used clever diplomacy and his warriors fought bravely employing guerrilla tactics they were ultimately defeated by the romans under marius and sulla this kickstarted the roman conquest of the berber coast a protracted effort that was completed
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only when mauritania already a roman client state was fully subsumed into the empire in 44 a.d during roman rule many amazing integrated themselves into their culture and from the 3rd century a.d many berbers converted to christianity among these was augustine bishop of the african city of hippo who was one of the most influential christian church fathers of all time and lays the foundations of western christian philosophy
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that deeply impact the catholic world to this day in the 5th century a.d the western half of the roman empire began to crumble allowing the germanic vandals to conquer parts of north africa during this turmoil the amazing were able to establish several small indigenous kingdoms in former roman territory worshipping a mixture of christianity judaism and traditional berber polytheism many of these kingdoms persisted even after the eastern roman empire
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re-conquered the african coast in 534 however this independence would be short-lived as in the far away deserts of arabia a new power was rising by the time of the prophet muhammad's death in 632 his followers had conquered all of arabia nearly immediately afterwards the muslims would storm out of their homeland as some of the most efficient conquerors in world history in 641 the armies of khalif umar had
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conquered byzantine egypt and quickly turned their gaze westward to the fertile coasts of the maghreb the muslim conquest of north africa was a long and grueling process that began in 647 and was only completed a full 62 years later throughout it all the amazing put up brutally stubborn resistance unlike the eastern romans the native tribesmen were well accustomed to the fast-paced desert warfare of their arab foes
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and were able to match them toe-to-toe perhaps the greatest symbol of berber resistance was the warrior queen dahia who crashed an army of the nascent umayyad caliphate near the town of mesquienna in 698 nevertheless she was defeated at the battle of tabaka and with her death the land of the berbers were quickly conquered becoming the umayyad province ifrikia from the word africa that the romans used for the same region ironically the tribal warrior lifestyle that made
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the amazing such fierce foes also allows them to integrate seamlessly into the new muslim world berbers converted to islam on mass but for the most part this conversion was nominal at best and despite professing a new faith the amazing retained many attributes of their languages social structure and many traditional practices the muslim force that crossed the narrow sea and famously conquered visigothic iberia in 7-eleven was predominantly amazing in
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origin in fact one of its principal commanders tara kevin was of berber extraction his name lives on in the modern day city of gibraltar whose name is a corruption of the arabic word jabal tariq meaning mountain of tariq it was also during this century that the trans-saharan trade network began expanding linking the arabic world to sub-saharan africa which subsequently introduced the muslim faith to many communities in west and central africa
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such as the powerful empire of ghana despite all this the amazing were undoubtedly a subject people while in theory the quran holds all muslims equal under god the berbers soon found that in practice they were still second-class citizens compared to the arabic elites for example during the conquest of iberia berber soldiers had been put in more dangerous theaters of battle while the arabs were often kept in reserve despite this the berbers often received
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less pay and war loot than their arab comrades heavy taxation was another budding issue under the pact of uma jewish and christian communities under muslim rule were guaranteed safety but in return had to pay a regular tribute known as the jizya or poll tax the amazing were originally payers of the jizya but as they converted to islam the amount of tax revenue coming from the western half of the caliphate began to dry up
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to counteract this arab governors of the umayyad province of ifrikia began imposing the poll tax on muslim berber converts in direct violation of islamic law one such arab governor was a man known as yazid ibn abi muslim who assumed control of the province of ifrikia in 720 historians condemned yazid as a pointlessly cruel man who treated his non-arab subjects with contempt even branding the hands of his berber guardsmen
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this was a step too far and the amazing yazid's employ had him assassinated the seeds of rebellion were further spread among the berbers with the introduction of a sect of islam known as carrichism to the maghreb coast the karagites were hardline egalitarians they rejected the nepotistic succession of caliphs that was based on ancestral kinship with the prophet muhammad believing that any man regardless of dissent or social status could rule the muslim world so long as
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he was uncompromisingly pious and just they even proclaimed that should he be holy enough they would even accept the rule of an abyssinian slave with a slit nose however the most committed belief of the keragites was that if a muslim ruler should fall to corruption and sin it was not only their right but their god-given duty to rise up in rebellion against them as one can imagine the passionate message of the keragites captured the imagination of many a berber firebrand
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who saw embracing it as a means to spiritually justify a holy war against their arab oppressors the ball finally got rolling in 739 when the gemara beguata and mcnasa tribes of western morocco rebelled against the umayyad caliphate they selected an amazing man named maysara al-mithgari to be their leader a man who according to tradition had previously been a lowly water carrier they waited until the local umayyad general habib
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and abiya baida sailed northwards to lead an expedition against byzantine sicily and upon his departure shaved their heads in karagite fashion bound quranic scriptures to their spears and marched out for battle the great amazing revolt had begun soon it spread across the deserts of the western maghreb the city of tangiers quickly fell to al-mitgari's rebel army who executed its umiyad governor omar al-maradi a detested man whose tribute policies
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had previously been bleeding the amazing dry the rebels then carved a path of destruction from the strait of gibraltar to the soos valley toppling umed garrisons along the way while more and more berber tribes joined the course however a column of elite arab cavalrymen made up of the aristocratic elites of ifrikia clashed with the rebels in the outskirts of tangiers halting their advance and forcing al-mizgari to pull his armies back to tangier's proper
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condemned for his cowardice al-mithgari was deposed and executed by the berber chieftains and was replaced with khalid ibn hamid al-zanati the charismatic chieftain of the zanata tribe khalid was declared the caliph in a direct challenge to the authority of the umayyad caliph and immediately went back on the offensive in the winter of 7 40 his army met the arab cavalry in a pitched battle at the shalath valley utterly crushing them and killing ten thousand umayyad soldiers
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this was a massive victory for the amazing as the flower of arabic nobility in the western maghreb had been utterly decimated and the remaining umayyad forces in the region were in complete panic finally having heard of this uprising umayyad general habib ibn abi ubaidah abandoned his sicilian campaign in a hurry he returned to the maghreb where he garrisoned clemson and sent a plea for reinforcements when word reached khalif hisham of the disaster in the west
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he is said to have exclaimed the following about the rebels by god i will most certainly rage against them with an arab rage and i will send against them an army whose beginning is where they are and whose end is where i am the caliph dispatched a relief force of thirty thousand syrian arabs to reinforce the african arab forces in themselves who had mustered some forty thousand men before long an army of seventy thousand was looking westward ready to retake the land
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lost to the rebels however the joining of these two armies did not go swimmingly the syrian and african arabs were of northern and southern arabian heritage respectively and ancient pre-islamic tribal rivalries permeated between them despite their internal enmity the umiyad army marched out in october of 741 meeting their foe at the town of bandura on the cebu river by now the rebel amazing army had grown to a massive size
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with some sources claiming that over 200 000 berbers had joined the course it should also be noted that most of these were not professional soldiers but laymen armed only with stones and knives making the figure more plausible the african arabs having faced the berbers in battle before knew not to underestimate their foe and warned the syrians to avoid open battle this warning was ignored by the syrians who believed the rebels to be little
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more than a disorganized rabble that would break upon the impact of a heavy cavalry charge however anticipating the oncoming horsemen the berber forces skirted around the enemy steeds using slings and spears to bring down their riders the rebels then tied bags of water to the tails of wild mares driving them mad before sending them stampeding into the main line of arab infantry which prevented them from reinforcing their over-extended cavalry the caliphate's cavalry was eventually
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encircled and massacred while the infantry was overwhelmed by the sheer number of the amazings nearly 40 000 umayyad troops were massacred at the battle of baghdura making it one of the most disastrous defeats in the caliphate's history news of this victory at baghdurah encouraged more and more berbers across the umayyad realm to rebel in islamic iberia amaziah soldiers stationed on the northern frontier abandoned their garrisons to wage war on
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their arab masters in toledo cordoba and al-jazeera's this revolt was eventually crushed but it did allow king alfonso the first of asturias to take advantage of the unrest and double the size of his domain kickstarting one of the earliest stages of the christian reconquista meanwhile the gains of the amazing back in north africa were put to a halt when they failed to take the provincial capital of cairoan in 742 allowing the umayyads to retain control
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over the eastern maghreb nevertheless the great amazing revolt had secured the freedom of morocco and its environs this would be the first time in history that the caliphate suffered major territorial loss and the first time that an independent islamic entity existed outside of the caliph's authority the amazing people had regained control of their own destiny forging a patchwork of native emirates in former umayyad territory this however was only the beginning in
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the centuries that followed the ancient and ambitious tribesmen of north africa would expand and unite under their own unique brands of islam forging some of the most powerful empires in african history in the second part of our history of the berbers we will cover the rise of the mighty zirid al-moravid and almahad dynasties so make sure you are subscribed and have pressed the bell button to see the next video in the series please consider liking commenting and sharing it helps immensely our videos would be
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