Modern humans, homo sapiens, are believed to have originated in East Africa somewhere between Ethiopia and Kenya. Despite this long history of habitation, there is very little (or little known about) African history prior to the second millennium AD outside of North Africa, Sudan & Ethiopia, as most were hunter-gatherers similar to some cultures still found today on the continent, with no writing systems nor lasting structures, arts, or crafts (aside from some cave paintings). North Africa, on the other hand, has a recorded history dating back several millennia with bountiful structures, writings, arts, and crafts which have survived to this day. The ancient Pharonic civilization centred in modern-day Egypt is recognized as the longest-lasting and one of the, if not the, greatest ancient civilizations lasting from around 3300BC until the invasion of Persians in 525BC. Today, their legacy lives with many of their cities well-preserved and now popular tourist attractions along with a few museums hosting their artefacts. Modern Jews believe themselves to be descendants of slaves in ancient Egypt and much of the Hebrew Bible, religious texts for both Jews and Christians, was based and written in the region. The other great early civilizations on the continent were the Nubians in northern Sudan and southern Egypt, who were very similar to the ancient Egyptians, leaving behind the city of Meroe in Sudan, and the Aksumite Empire from the 4th century BC until the 7st century AD in modern-day Ethiopia and eastern Sudan which was important to trade between India and the Roman Empire and an important centre of early Christianity.
Meanwhile, the 300s BC brought about the first (and less famous) invasions of Europeans to the continent. In 332 BC, Alexander the Great invaded Persian-occupied Egypt, establishing the famous city of Alexandria which would go on to serve as an important centre of scholarship and Greek culture for many centuries. Meanwhile, the Romans conquered much of the Mediterranean coastline to the west, leaving behind such ruins as Carthage and Leptis Magna. In the first century AD, Christianity spread through much of the region, first to Egypt, then Nubia, Ethiopia, and on to the Roman Empire.
The Muslim invasion changed the cultural landscape of Northern Africa and large parts of Eastern and Western Africa. The newly-formed Arab caliphate invaded North Africa and the Horn of Africa within a few decades. In the west, Berbers would intermarry with the Arab invaders to become the Moorish population that would later invade the Iberian peninsula. When Damascus was invaded in the early eighth century, the Islamic religious and political centre of the Mediterranean shifted to Kairouan in Tunisia. Their progress was limited only by the dense forests of West and Central Africa and to coastal areas in the East. The last region to come under Muslim influence was that of Nubia (moden-day northern Sudan) in the 14th century.