Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the sub-Saharan civilizations of Ghana and Mali in Medieval Africa.

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.