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Timbuktu
Definition by Mark Cartwright

Timbuktu

Timbuktu (Timbuctoo) is a city in Mali, West Africa which was an important trade centre of the Mali Empire which flourished between the 13th and 15th centuries CE. The city, founded c. 1100 CE, gained wealth from access to and control of...
Mali Empire
Definition by Mark Cartwright

Mali Empire

The Mali Empire (1240-1645) of West Africa was founded by Sundiata Keita (r. 1230-1255) following his victory over the kingdom of Sosso (c. 1180-1235). Sundiata's centralised government, diplomacy and well-trained army permitted a massive...
Mansa Musa I
Definition by Mark Cartwright

Mansa Musa I

Mansa Musa I was the ruler of the Mali Empire in West Africa from 1312 to 1337. Controlling territories rich in gold and copper, and monopolising trade between the north and interior of the continent, Mali grew extremely wealthy. Mansa Musa...
Songhai Empire
Definition by Mark Cartwright

Songhai Empire

The Songhai Empire (aka Songhay, c. 1460 - c. 1591) covered what is today southern Mauritania and Mali. It replaced the Mali Empire (1240-1645) as the most important state in West Africa. Originating as a smaller kingdom along the eastern...
The Salt Trade of Ancient West Africa
Article by Mark Cartwright

The Salt Trade of Ancient West Africa

Salt from the Sahara desert was one of the major trade goods of ancient West Africa where very little naturally occurring deposits of the mineral could be found. Transported via camel caravans and by boat along such rivers as the Niger and...
The Spread of Islam in Ancient Africa
Article by Mark Cartwright

The Spread of Islam in Ancient Africa

Following the conquest of North Africa by Muslim Arabs in the 7th century CE, Islam spread throughout West Africa via merchants, traders, scholars, and missionaries, that is largely through peaceful means whereby African rulers either tolerated...
The Gold Trade of Ancient & Medieval West Africa
Article by Mark Cartwright

The Gold Trade of Ancient & Medieval West Africa

West Africa was one of the world's greatest producers of gold in the Middle Ages. Trade in the metal went back to antiquity but when the camel caravans of the Sahara linked North Africa to the savannah interior, the trade really took off...
The Camel Caravans of the Ancient Sahara
Article by Mark Cartwright

The Camel Caravans of the Ancient Sahara

The camel caravans which crossed the great dunes of the Sahara desert began in antiquity but reached their golden period from the 9th century CE onwards. In their heyday caravans consisted of thousands of camels travelling from North Africa...
Salt Slabs, Timbuktu
Image by Robin Taylor

Salt Slabs, Timbuktu

Salt slabs on sale at a market in Timbuktu, Mali. Salt from mines in the Sahara desert has been transported to and traded in West Africa since pre-historical times.
Djinguereber Mosque, Timbuktu
Image by UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Djinguereber Mosque, Timbuktu

The Djinguereber Mosque, Timbuktu, Mali. The mosque, made from pounded earth and wood, was built during the reign of Mansa Musa (1312-1337 CE), ruler of the Mali Empire. Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino
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