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Timbuktu Packet

Timbuktu Packet

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Published by: aquadante on Sep 09, 2010
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: new discoveries are being made all the time
Oral Tradition
: the way history is transmitted by West African cultures
: experts analyze linguistic similarities and anomalies to understandthe historic relationships between cultures and groups
Written Accounts
: extensive writings of first and second hand observations byArab traders and Muslim scholars
How do we knowabout the MedievalEmpires of theWestern Sudan?
     t      i    m      b    u      k     t    u
and the Medieval Empires of the Western Sudan
Where is Timbuktu?
is a city located in the moderncountry of Mali, in West Africa.Geographically, it is situated in the savannahof sub-Saharan Africa - an area of grasslandsbetween the Niger River to the south and theSahara Desert to the north.
Why is it called “Timbuktu?”
One legend purports that the
 people, Berber nomads f who traversed theSahara, went to the area to graze their herdsin the dry season. Over time, as theyreturned north for the season, they wouldleave their belongings in the care of a localwoman, Buktu, who owned a well used by theTuareg. The place became known as“Tin’Buktu,” which, in the language of theTuareg, means “the well of Buktu.”
Why do scholars call theregion “Western Sudan?”
The earliest writings by Arab traderscalled this area “Bilad al-Sudan,” whichmeans “land of the black people.” Modernscholars refer to Medieval West Africa as“Western Sudan,” which is completelydifferent from the modern country of Sudan inthe eastern part of Africa.
How has geography shapedthe region politically?
Timbuktu was a place where caravansfrom North Africa (offering Mediterraneangoods) met the salt traders from thenorthwest, the gold traders from the forestssouth of the Niger River, and the slave tradersfrom the Mideast and from other parts of Africa.The savannah is marked by scatteredtrees and a wet and dry season. It isperfectly suited for herding animals andraising grain crops. Agrarian life createssurplus, which supports craftspeople. Ironforging became prominent. Horses werepurchased through trade with the Tuaregs.The combined technology of iron and horsesenabled local control of the gold/salt/slavetrade.Recent archaeological evidence showsthat
urban centers
appeared west of Timbuktusomewhere between 400-900 C.E, especiallyin a place called Koumbi Saleh, whichbecame the capital city of Western Sudan’sfirst major empire: the
Ghana Empire
source: http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~thematic/umbach/slavetradespring03/mali.html
Dana QuanteINCH 512Spring 2009
What is an empire?An empire is a number of individual kingdoms andpeoples that are all controlledby one ruler.
4th - 12thcenturies C.E.13th - 15thcenturies C.E.15th - 16thcenturies C.E.
Capital city
Kumbi SalehNianiGao
DominantMande culture
Famous rulers
Diabe Cisse
legendary founding manghan(king) 
legendary founding mansa(emporer)
Mansa Musa
mansa who increased the areaof the Mali Empire andattained the highest wealth
Sunni Ali Ber 
conquered Timbuktu andstarted the Songhay Empire
started the Askiya dynasty andincreased size and stability of Songhay Empire
Primary sourcedocumentingeach empire
Muslim scholar from Cordoba,Spain whose writings aboutGhana are based oninterviews with traders.
Ibn Battuta
Muslim scholar from Tangiers,Morocco, he traveled throughthe known world for 25 years,wrote his memoirs.
Leo Africanus
Muslim scholar from Granada,Spain, he traveled to Timbuktu,was enslaved on his way toConstantinople, and “given” toPope Leo X, who freed him.
300-500 C.E.
Rise of Ghanatrade
SunniAli Ber capturesTimbuktu
Traditional Religion
of Sub-Saharan West AfricaSacred Groves
The place where spiritual leaderswould interface with the spiritworld was a sacred grove of treeslocated somewhere outside thevillage or city.Sacred objects were kept in thesegroves, and only the spiritualleaders of the community wereallowed to enter. Like many other polytheistic spiritual traditions,access to the spirit world wasrestricted and a “mystery.”Bida, the snake, was a centralspirit for the Wagadu, and is partof the founding mythology of theregion. Bida “lived” in the sacredgrove outside of Kumbi Saleh.
Blacksmiths were revered for their privileged knowledge of forgingiron. The blacksmiths were thepriest class. They had access tothe sacred groves where they usedmasks as a ritualistic conduit tocommunicate with the divine.
Cultural Bias
Muslim and European accounts of the indigenous religious practicesshow a cultural bias throughjudgmental language. This shouldbe kept in mind when readingprimary sources.
Fall of the Ghana Empire
Economic insecurity dueto violence and warfare
Central governmentdisintegrating as empirebroke into kingdoms
Ghana Empire
4th - 12th centuries C.E.
“Ghana” is the name Arab tradersused for the main city and the king of theregion. The people of the region actuallycalled their state “
,” whichmeans “place of the warrior kings.”“Ghana” is not to be confused with themodern country of Ghana, which wasnamed in honor of the ancient kingdom.The
are the Mande peoplewho lived west of Timbuktu.We know about the Soninke throughthe writings of 
, an 11th centuryMuslim scholar who lived in Cordoba,Spain. He interviewed traders comingback from the region and wrote abouttheir tales in
The Book of Routes andKingdoms
.Modern scholars believe that Ghanarose to power around the 4th centuryC.E. Excavations of the ancient capitalcity of 
Kumbi Saleh
indicate a populationof 15,000 - 20,000 people, and a large,walled palace compound.The Soninke developed superior irontools for farming and weapons. Al-Bakrihad written that the king of Ghana hadan army of 200,000 men. Byconsolidating political power and levyingtariffs, the Soninke were able to controlthe flow of trade of the three major localcommodities:
, and
.The Soninke had a unified politicalsystem with a king, vassals, governors,and ministers who administered therunning of the treasury, taxes, and law.The king and the royal courtiers weredescribed as being covered in goldadornments.Tariffs were collected from goodsgoing in and out of the region. Onegold dinar was the tax for one donkeyload of salt coming in, and two golddinars for the same load going out.
First contact with Islam
 Muslim merchants started trading inthe region between the 9th and 11thcenturies. Archaeologists havedetermined that Kumbi Saleh had twodistinct areas, one of which was mostprobably the “Muslim Quarter.” Localattitudes were tolerant of other religions,and Islam was assimilated into theregion.The downfall of the Ghana Empire islinked to the
Almoravid Movement
. Alocal chief, Yasin, wanted the people tostrictly observe Islam, by choice or force.In 1056, Yasin, captured major cities andtook control of the empire. There wereviolent forced conversions. After Yasin,there was a succession of rulers whoshared power, but the unity of theempire was shattered. Kingdoms andclans were vying for local power by the12th century.
source: http://www.accessgambia.com/information/ghana.htmlModernGhanaBureBambuk

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