Sites of Encounter - Mali

In this lesson, students are introduced to Mali, one of three medieval West African empires (Ghana, Mali and Songhay) that grew wealthy from the extraction and sale of gold. Trade between West Africa and the northern coast of the continent began during the Roman Empire. Between 1000 and 1450, Arab and Berber merchants traveled across the Sahara to trade for gold, often with salt, a product that West Africans needed. With Arab merchants came Muslim religious teachers and travelers, such as Ibn Battuta, who spread the religion of Islam and Muslim culture throughout West Africa. The Malian dynasty was Muslim, and one of its rulers, Mansa Musa, made a famous pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324. Students will read primary sources and analyze visual representations. This lesson also includes the unit’s individual research project, in which each student is assigned to research one of fifteen sites visited by Ibn Battuta, write a travel narrative from the point of view of a 14th-century traveler, and make a travel brochure.

Inquiry Question

What were the effects of the exchanges at Mali?