The empire was also known to be a major education hub.  but this interpretation has been questioned. al-Ya'qubi in Levtzion and Hopkins, eds. These contributing factors all helped the empire remain powerful for some time, providing a rich and stable economy that was to last over several centuries. Though, the people were only allowed gold dust. There the gold was exchanged for commodities, the most important of which was salt, that had been transported southward by northern African caravans. By 700s Ghana was a kingdom and by the 800s Ghana had become an Empire. Only the king was allowed to have solid gold in any form.  Beginning in the 1920s, French archaeologists began excavating the site of Koumbi-Saleh, although there have always been controversies about the location of Ghana's capital and whether Koumbi-Saleh is the same town as the one described by al-Bakri. .  According to the description of the town left by Al-Bakri in 1067/1068, the capital actually consisted of two cities 10 kilometres (6 mi) apart but "between these two towns are continuous habitations", so that they might be said to have merged into one. “Akan of Ghana and their ancient beliefs” by Eva L.R. A tradition in historiography maintains that Ghana fell when it was sacked by the Almoravid movement in 1076–77, although Ghanaians resisted attack for a decade. According to Ibn Khaldun, following Ghana's conversion, "the authority of the rulers of Ghana dwindled away and they were overcome by the Sosso...who subjugated and subdued them. Delafosse assigned an arbitrary but widely accepted date of 1230 to the event.  Furthermore, the archaeology of ancient Ghana simply does not show the signs of rapid change and destruction that would be associated with any Almoravid-era military conquests. 7th–13th century). It contained a sacred grove of trees in which priests lived. Ibn Khaldun, a fourteenth-century North African historian who read and cited both al-Bakri and al-Idrisi, does report an ambiguous account of the country's history as related to him report 'Uthman, a faqih of Ghana who took a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1394, that the power of Ghana waned as that of the "veiled people" grew, through the Almoravid movement. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965. al-Bakri in Levtzion and Hopkins, eds. As the empire declined it finally became a vassal of the rising Mali Empire at some point in the 13th century. Behind the king stand ten pages holding shields and swords decorated with gold, and on his right are the sons of the kings of his country wearing splendid garments and their hair plaited with gold.  This tradition states that Ghana Soumaba Cisse, at the time a vassal of the Sosso, rebelled with Kangaba and became part of a loose federation of Mande-speaking states. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. A Moorish nobleman living in Spain by the name of Al-Bakri questioned merchants who visited the empire in the 11th century and wrote of the king: He sits in audience or to hear grievances against officials in a domed pavilion around which stand ten horses covered with gold-embroidered materials. Another problem for archaeology is that al-Idrisi, a twelfth-century writer, described Ghana's royal city as lying on a riverbank, a river he called the "Nile" following the geographic custom of his day of confusing the Niger and Senegal, which do not meet, as forming a single river often called the "Nile of the Blacks". The empire's capital is believed to have been at Koumbi Saleh on the rim of the Sahara desert. , While there is no clear-cut account of a sack of Ghana in the contemporary sources, the country certainly did convert to Islam, for al-Idrisi, whose account was written in 1154, has the country fully Muslim by that date. The main trading items included crops, ivory, incenses, pottery, woven baskets, carved masks, and above all salt. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Levtzion concluded that local developments, stimulated by trade from North Africa were crucial in the development of the state, and tended to favor the more recently collected traditions over the other traditions in compiling his work. It was situated between the Sahara and the headwaters of the Sénégal and Niger rivers, in an area that now comprises southeastern Mauritania and part of Mali. Sama is the only such entity mentioned as a province, as it was in al-Ya'qubi's day. Several such traditions were recorded and published.  (El-Ghaba, coincidentally or not, means "The Forest" in Arabic.). Because the majority of these Muslims were merchants, this part of the city was probably its primary business district. 7th–13th century). The word ghana means warrior or war chief and was the title given to the rulers of the original kingdom whose Soninke name was Ouagadou. The earliest descriptions of the Empire are vague as to its maximum extent, though according to al-Bakri, Ghana had forced Awdaghost in the desert to accept its rule sometime between 970 and 1054. In 1240 the city was destroyed by the Mande emperor Sundiata, and what was left of the empire of Ghana was incorporated into his new empire of Mali.  In addressing the rulers' origin, the Tarikh al-Fettash provides three different opinions, one that they were Soninke, another that they were Wangara (which are a Soninke group), and another that they were Sanhaja Berbers. By the time of the Muslim conquest of North Africa in the 7th century the camel had changed the ancient, more irregular trade routes into a trade network running from Morocco to the Niger River. It is mentioned for the first time in written records by Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī in 830. When, in 1957, the Gold Coast became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain its independence from colonial rule, it renamed itself Ghana in honor of the long-gone empire. The name of the other section of the city is not recorded. The Ghana Empire grew rich from this increased trans-Saharan trade in gold and salt, allowing for larger urban centres to develop. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.  More recent work, for example by Nehemiah Levtzion, in his classic work published in 1973, sought to harmonize archaeology, descriptive geographical sources written between 830 and 1400 CE, the older traditions of the Tarikhs, from the 16th and 17th centuries and at last the traditions collected by French administrators. Corrections?  By al-Bakri's own time, however, it was surrounded by powerful kingdoms, such as Sila. The principal raison d’etre of the empire was the desire to control the trade in alluvial gold, which had led the nomadic Amazigh peoples of the desert to develop the western trans-Saharan caravan road. , According to al-Bakri, the major part of the city was called El-Ghaba and was the residence of the king. Given the scattered nature of the Arabic sources and the ambiguity of the existing archaeological record, it is difficult to determine when and how Ghana declined and fell. and trans., "Listening for Silences in Almoravid History: Another Reading of “The Conquest that Never Was” Camilo Gómez-Rivas, "Law and the Islamization of Morocco under the Almoravids” Camilo Gómez-Rivas.  The introduction of the camel played a key role in Soninke success as well, allowing products and goods to be transported much more efficiently across the Sahara. Ghana eventually turned back the … Image from https://ancientafricae.wikispaces.com/Ghana+Location.  The main centre of trade was Koumbi Saleh. Nestled in between fertile crop lands and a large producing salt mine in Taghaza, Ghana was the wealthiest empire in the West.
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