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Achievements of African Empires

Kush- In the time when Kush was Nubia, the Kushites traded ivory, ebony, franckincense, and leapard skins, with Egyptians. Became one of the major trading states in the region, with its center city of Meroe. Meroe was located at a land route connecting the desert with the Nile. They had a vast supply of iron ore which allowed them to make iron weapons and tools.

Axum- Axum is best known for conquering Kush. It emerged as an independent state (originally ruled by the Arabian Penisula) that combined Arab and African cultures. They exported ivory, frankincense, myrth, and slaves. King Ezana made Christianity its official religion in 330 AD.

Achievemnts of African Kingdoms

Ghana- Ghana was the first great trading state in West Africa. It had strong rulers, no laws (strong & successful government) well trained army, thousands of men enrolled, and a great supply of iron and gold. Skilled blacksmiths turned ore into tools and weapons. The richest gold-producing area was located in Ghana. Its gold supply made Ghana the center of an enormous trade empire. Other exports include ivory, ostrich feathers, hides, and slaves.

Songhai- The Songhai kingdom was located near the Niger River, which flooded unexpectedly. This provided a rich soil, perfect for farming crops and caring for cattle.

The Dia Dynasty: Established by a ruler named Kossi, the Songhai dyn. converted to Islam. They benefited from Muslim trade routes connecting Arabia, North Africa, and west Africa. Because of its location on the trade routes, it ensured Gao as the chief trade center.

The Sunni Dynasty: Under Sunni Ali, the kingdom expanded, by military force. Two conquests inparticular, gave control of the trading empire, that being the conquest of Timbuktu and Kenne. The additions to the kingdom gave Sunni Ali control over salt and gold trade.

The Askia Dynasty: A time where the Songhai reached its height under Muhammad Ture. He too expanded, creating an empire stretching a thousand miles along the Niger River. Also, he kept peace and security, along his chief cities to prosper in gold and salt trade.

Mali- After Ghana was weakened, Mali became the greatest of the new trading societies. Sundiata created strong government, and unified people of Mali. Its wealth was based off salt and gold trade. Most of the inhabitants were farmers who lived in villages ruled by local leaders. Mansa Musa went on pillgrimage to Makkah and returned with scholars and books to teach Muslim to his subjects, and architects to build mosques.

Achievements of African Cities

BANTU: migrated from west to eastern africa, farming society, practiced substinence farming ( enough for personal uses) primary grains: millet and sorghum. also traded: yams, melons, and beans. women tilled fields & cared for children. men tended herd, traded, and hunted.

MOGADISHU, MOMBOSA, KILWA: string of trading posts along south-eastern coast of Africa. arabs trading from the arabian peninsula formed these cities.

KILWA: contains famous coral-cut buildings in the cliffs. in 14th century, 2 monumental buildings were created: Great Moswue of Kilwa and Husuni Kubwa palace which had over one hundred rooms.

SWAHILI-african-arabic culture, originated on coast, swahili means "people of the coasjt." intermarriage waas common, the language was combination of bantu and arabic words/phrases. today it is natl. language of Kenya and Tanzania.

ZIMBABWE: one of africa's first states, wealthiest and most powerful state in region. prospered from gold trade. capital=the great zimbabwe, town overlooks zambezi river. the walls could contain 10,000 residents. The massive walls of the Great Zimbabwe were stacked granite blocks w/out any mortar to hold them in place. The Great Enclosure was an oval space surrounded by a wall 800 feet long, 17 feet thick, and 32 feet high.

TIMBUKTU- a famous trading city located on the "hum" of Africa. Given to Songhai in one of Sunni Ali's conquests, giving them control of the trading empire.The city linked west Africa with Berber, Arab, and Jewish traders from all around Alfrica. It was a focal point in the gold-salt trade.

Cultural Achievements in African Society

-Villages were home to artisans skilled in metalworking, woodworking, pottery making and other crafts

-Round dwellings made of packed mud and topped with a thatch roof of plant material such as straw.

-Rock paintings

-Wood carvings

-Pottery Making: Pg. 240 of textbook: "In the thirteeth and fourteenth centuries, metalworkers at Ife, the capital of the Yoruba people, in what is now southern Nigeria, prodcued handsome bronze and iron statues. The Ife sculptures may have influenced artists in Benin in West Africa, who produced equally impressive works in bronze during the same period. The Benin sculptures include bronze heads, many of kings, and figures of various types of animals. These works are rivaled only by the sculptures of the Chinese" (Info also displayed in "The Documents section")

The Documents

Doc. 1- Trade Routes of Aksum (Axum) between 300 and 700 C.E.

Question: How did Aksum's location enable it to become a trading center?

Outside Information: Axum is located in present day Ethiopia (in the highlands). Its location along the Red Sea allowed the civilization to prosper, because it was along a sea route between India, and the Mediterranean area. It exported ivory, frankincense, myrrh, and slaves. It imported textiles, metal goods, wine and olive oil. The competition for ivory forced King Ezana to conquer Kush. Because of its location along trade routes, the kingdom prospered. (look below for reasons trade is an achievement). More outside information above

Doc. 2- Wealthy court, king has lavashed goods.

Between 700 and 1067, the Kingdom of Ancient Ghana rose in power and gained control of the trans-Saharan gold and salt trade. This description of the king's court in ancient Ghana was written by the Arab scholar, Al Bakri:

" The court of appeal is held in a domed pavillion around which stand ten horses with gold emroired trappings. Behind the king stand ten pages holding shields and swords decorated with gold, and on his right are the sons of the subordinate kings of his country, all wearing splendid garments and their hair mixed with gold. The governor of the city sits o the ground before the king, and aroun him are ministers seated likewise. At the door of the pavillion are dogs...[wearing] collars of gold and silver, studded with a number of balls of the same meatls."

Question: What evidence of wealth is described?

Question: What evidence of an advanced political structure is described?

Doc. 3- Salt-Gold trade with Ghana

Question: Explain ancient Ghana's role in the gold-salt trade

Outside information: The kingdom was located in the upper Niger River valley, "a grassland region between the Shara and the tropical forests along the West African coast". There possession of both iron and gold allowed the civilization to prosper. "The region had an abundant supply of iron ore. The skilled blacksmiths of Ghana were highly valued because of their ability to turn ore into tools and weapons. Ghana also had an abundance of gold. The heartland of the state was located near one of the richest gold-producing areas in all of Africa. Ghana's gold made it the center of an trade empire. Muslim merchants from North Africa brought to Ghana metal goods, textiles, horses and salf. Salt was a highly desired item for the Ghanains. It was used to preserve food, as well as improve the food's taste. Salt was also important because people needed extra salt to replace what their bodies lost in the hot climate. Ghanains traded their abundant gold for salt and other products brought from North Africa." -Pg 229 of Textbook. Trade was done silently (silent trade) Other exports of Ghana were ivory, ostrich feathers, hides, and slaves. Trading merchants prospered from the trade route. Kings too prospered from the taxes. The trading of gold was an achievement because it could then supply salt to the civilization. (More info in Ghana above)

Doc. 4- Mansa Mula

Question: Why was the traveller impressed with Mansa Mula?

Outside Information: He was one of the most richest and powerful kings who ruled from 1312 to 1337. Mansa, meaning king, increased the size of the kingdom and divided the kingdom into provinces, all ruled by governors who he appointed. His pilgrimage to Makkah was joined by thousands of servants and soldiers, along with camels carrying gold, food, clothing and other supplies. He gave gold gifts to his hosts, and made hundreds of purchases with gold from merchants. The value of gold fell because of him.

Doc. 5- Professions (intellectual) and books of Timbuktu

Doc. 6- Travels to Kindom of Mali

Doc. 7- The making of a bronze sculpture

Question: Why is the sculpture discribed as a wonder?

Outside Information: Pg. 240 of textbook: "In the thirteeth and fourteenth centuries, metalworkers at Ife, the capital of the Yoruba people, in what is now southern Nigeria, prodcued handsome bronze and iron statues. The Ife sculptures may have influenced artists in Benin in West Africa, who produced equally impressive works in bronze during the same period. The Benin sculptures include bronze heads, many of kings, and figures of various types of animals. These works are rivaled only by the sculptures of the Chinese."

Doc. 8- Trade Routes by land and sea


Reasons for Achievements

Trade- Trade gives other civilizations access to new goods. It can also form aliences with other civilizations, as trading benefits both societies. Also, it encourages skilled workers to move to that civilization.

Use of Bronze- Difficult to discover how to make bronze (A "wonder"), influenced art in other civilizations (look at background information for document above)

Intellectual Professions/Use of Books- Difficult professions, such as a doctor, could make discoverys about science, medicine, and mathematics. They could also come up with new philosphoies and literature. The use of books increased, allowing everyone to be intelliectully advanced. Everyone could learn.

Stict Governement, No fear of robbers- The stict penilities allowed the civilization to rest in peace as no robbery would occur. The organized gov. proved successful in lowering crime.

Mansa Mula's "giving away" of gold- The prosperity of gold trade allowed gold to be given away. This is an achievement because the civilization was so prosperous.

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Topic of Essay: Evaluate the achievemnts of the African empires, kingoms and cities before the arrival of the Europeans

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