Although there is evidence that iron was worked in Africa 5,000 years ago, with knowledge of smelting techniques evident in the northern fringes of the Bantu homeland, ironworking began to flourish c. 500 BCE in sub-Saharan Africa. There are different theories about the spread of ironworking, with many favouring the Assyrians as catalysts for the industry’s expansion. They brought with them expertise in the mass production of iron weaponry when they invaded Egypt in 676 BCE. By 600 CE ironworking had spread to southern Africa, with the migration of the Bantu east and south. Between 1000 BCE and 500CE cattle and sheep domestication also spread, probably alongside the Bantu migration. The Bantu expansion is thought to have pushed the Khosian people into southwestern Africa and caused the Pygmies to retreat into the Congo Basin.
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