Kingdoms & Trading States of Medieval Africa

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1 Kingdoms & Trading States of Medieval Africa Early Societies in West Africa CE

2 Table of Contents Background Africa s Four Climate Zones Africa s Four Vegetation Zones Africa s Vegetation Map Early Trade Routes Muslim Trade Routes The Sahara Desert The Sahal Desert The Savannah The Woodland Forest Communities & Villages The Nok People Development of Towns & Cities Jenne-jeno The Rise of Kingdoms & Empires End of Presentation

3 Background Civilization began in West Africa thousands of years ago. Written records are non existent during the time period CE. Muslim scholars began writing about the Kingdom of Ghana around 800 CE. By then Ghana was more than 300 years old. To determine how these civilizations came to be, scholars studied geography, natural features, vegetation, ancient settlements, and artifacts. By studying these clues scholars understand how the kingdoms came to be, why they developed where they did, what kind of life the settlers had, and what they did to grow and harvest their food. African civilization was shaped by Africa s Four Climate and Four Vegetation Zones.

4 Africa s Four Climate Zones Africa is the second largest continent on earth following Asia. Africa can be divided into four climate zones: West Africa North Africa Central & South Africa East Africa

5 Africa s Four Vegetation Zones Africa can also be divided into four vegetation zones that are important because of the affect on life in each zone. They include: A desert, is sandy, hot and dry. A semi-desert, is less dry and supports grasses and shrubs. A savannah, consists of tall grasses and trees. A forest, has an abundance of vegetation.

6 Africa s Vegetation Map

7 Early Trade Routes Three Medieval Kingdoms developed in Africa between 500 and 1600 CE: Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. For centuries African civilizations had limited contact with civilizations to the north because travel across the Sahara Desert was almost impossible.

8 Muslim Trade Routes By 700 CE, Arab Muslim traders from North Africa began to cross the Sahara in increasing numbers and created trade routes. These trade routes played an important role in the growth of the region Trade also brought the Muslim religion, Islam to the region. Islam had a deep impact on West African culture.

9 The Sahara Desert Geography determines where people live and patterns of trade. The Sahara Desert is 3.5 million square miles. It is very dry; therefore, not suitable for large settlements.

10 The Sahal Desert The Sahal, south of the Sahara is a semi desert, not as dry and produces short grass, bushes & some trees. In the south the Sahal merges into the Savannah, an area of tall grasses and scattered trees.

11 The Savannah With a long rainy season, the Savannah produces a variety of crops for human consumption and food for feeding animals. Rivers such as the Niger help fertilize the ground.

12 The Woodland Forest Woodland forests and rainforests are great places to support life. Trade was stimulated by the different produce of each region and rivers provided the routes for trade.

13 Communities & Villages Early settlements, made up of extended families, appeared around 4000 BCE south of the Sahara. The communities were 15 to 20 members and were self sufficient and traded for additional goods with other such communities. As families joined together they formed villages with 100 to 200 people. The leaders were selected for their wisdom. Villages were formed to get help from other sources and for protection.

14 The Nok People Villages grew into towns due to ironworking and trade. By 500 BC, the Nok people lived near present day Nigeria. They were making tools from iron using smelting furnaces. As ironworking spread, it brought major changes in farming. They now had tools to clear land and raise more.

15 Development of Towns & Cities The greater abundance of food supported larger villages allowing others to work at other trades. Surplus food was then available to trade with other villages. Villages then grew up along the river trade routes. These villages became market centers and grew richer by charging for trading services. These villages grew into sizable towns.

16 Jenne-jeno Jenne-jeno was a thriving city of about 20,000 people built in the 3 rd century that existed for more that 1600 years. It was discovered in It was ideally located for farming fishing and trade. The citizens traded their surplus crops for iron & copper, many miles away. The people lived in circular houses made of bent poles. woven mats, and mud blocks. The people farmed and had many tradesmen, most of whom were blacksmiths. Blacksmiths were revered for their ability to craft tools made from iron. They held prominent positions and some were charged with predicting the future.

17 The Rise of Kingdoms & Empires Trade drove the early kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhai. Rulers raised money by taxing the goods traded. The revenue raise allowed them to raise armies and conquer other trading areas. Conquered people paid tribute in recognition of the new rulers protection. Rulers were both political and religious leaders. They were believed to have special powers given to them by the gods. As kingdoms conquered more areas they created empires. Empires worked by providing protection, safety on trade routes, and keeping raiders at bay. Wars between small tribes ended.

18 End of Presentation

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