Monday, January 10, 2011

West African Empires

Today we will begin an examination of three African empires -- Ghana, Mali and Songhai. Although none of these is as famous as Ancient Egypt, each is incredibly important in the history of African trade with the rest of the world.

To start with, take out a sheet of loose leaf paper. You will need it to complete today's classwork.

Part 1: Landforms in West and North Africa
  1. Open your book to a physical map of Africa.
  2. Focus on West and North Africa. List as many landforms and waterways as possible in the time provided.
  3. Many major historical African cities, such as Alexandria, Cairo, Tunis and Carthage, were located along the northern waterways. Others were located along the west coast, near the Atlantic Ocean.
  4. Starting around 700 CE, North Africa from Egypt to Morocco was conquered by Arab-Muslim invaders from the Middle East.
  5. Over time, these newcomers began to send traders on camelback across the Sahara to West Africa.
  6. Answer the following question: What would motivate a person to travel across an enormous desert?
Part 2: Researching West Africa's Past
You will be assigned one of three historic West African trade empires to research.
  • Ghana
  • Mali
  • Songhai
Answer each of the following questions on the sheet of loose leaf using the sites provided. Be sure to answer in complete sentences. For each question, write down the website you used to find your information. This should look like a link. You might use the same website for multiple questions. The assignment is worth a total of 20 points. It is due on your desk at the start of tomorrow's class period.
  1. Record the name of your empire and its relative location. State which modern countries it would be located in.
  2. Record the dates during which your empire was powerful.
  3. Record the resources it traded to North Africa/the Middle East.
  4. Record the resources it received in return from North Africa/the Middle East.
  5. Name any important rulers and describe their importance.
  6. Describe how contact with outside traders influenced the country.
  7. Explain how these influences were (or were not) assimilated into your empire's culture.
  8. Describe the ways in which your empire changed after coming into contact with other cultures.
  9. Name and describe any art, music and artifacts your empire is famous for.
  10. Explain why your empire ultimately declined and fell.
Websites for Research
Historic Maps:
Trade Routes Between Middle East and North Africa:
Ghana, Mali and Songhai Empires:

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