Sub Saharan Trade

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Sub Saharan Trade


The Trans-Saharan Trade Route was a major route between the Mediterranean countries and Sub-Saharan Africa. The peak of this trade was from the 8th century to the late 16th century.

Works Cited-Department of AAOA. "The Trans-Saharan Gold Trade (7th–14th century)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–-"Ibn Battuta's Trip: Chapter 12Journey to West Africa1351 - 1353." The Travels of Ibn Battuta. Berkley, 1999. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.-"Timbuktu." World Geography: Understanding a Changing World. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.Masonen, Pakka. "Trans-Saharan Trade and the West African Discovery of the Mediterranean World." Trans-Saharan Trade. University of Tampere, Dec. 1995. Web. 02 Dec. 2014."Timbuktu." World Geography: Understanding a Changing World. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.

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CONTINUITIES (scroll for more)•Conversions to Islam for trade purposesoBeginning with Arab conquest of North Africa by Umayyads, Islamic North Africa trades salt for gold across Sahara to enable the gold-based monetary system of the Umayyad empireoConverting to Islam ensured honesty and respect from both parties, thus African merchants, officials and kings converted to gain and maintain profitable trade and therefore power•Rises of power in Eurasia increase Trans-Saharan outputoEurasian empires such as the Umayyad Empire an the Roman Empire desired gold as a luxury item and as the basis of the monetary systemoKnowledge of the riches of Africa brought trade parties across the SaharaoThis was also greatly influenced by the trip of Mansa Musa, whose stop in Alexandria and Cairo, two major trade cities, alerted Italian merchants to the presence of gold in the Mali Empire •Products exchanged over the Trans-Saharan trade network were largely unchangedoFrom 600-1750 the major export of Africa was always gold, and the major import was salt•African kingdoms rise due to profitable gold tradeoGhana and Mali rise to power by capturing major trade cities such as TimbuktuoHuge wealth of these empires demonstrated by travels of Ibn Battuta and the pilgrimage of Mansa Musa

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CHANGES•THE SLAVE TRADE Initially, European demand for African products such as gold, copper, pepper, and cotton cloth tended to encourage peaceful relations and trade among neighbors. The attention shift from products to captives was a huge change, causing further political fragmentation, extremely low population densities, and other demographic changes, especially in West Central Africa. •INTRODUCTION OF ISLAMIn the eighth century Arab invaders overran all of coastal North Africa. They introduced the Berbers living there to the religion of Islam, and gradually the Berbers became Muslims. Conversion to Islam introduced West Africans to a rich and sophisticated culture. Islam accelerated the development of the West African empires. For the most part, the religion was received well, although the Islamic rules somehow clashed the traditional African cultures. In most of the African cultures this part of their old tradition was very hard to replace even with the spreading of Islam. Many Africans connected the two different religions and came up with their brand of the African Islam.

PRODUCTS (scroll for more)Around the fifth century, thanks to the availability of the camel, Berber-speaking people began crossing the Sahara Desert. Gold, sought from the western and central Sudan, was the main commodity of the trans-Saharan trade.Carried southward were goods such as silk, cotton, horses, and salt. Gold, ivory, pepper, and slaves were brought northward on the Trans-Saharan trade route. Because the desert was so vast, a need for specific occupations arose, such as caravan traders and camel dealers. This allowed more people to travel across the desert and the need for more merchant positions. Salt and gold were very important products brought across the desert. With large supplies of gold in Sudan and where the Empire of Ghana was positioned, they lacked salt, which was vital for survival. On the other hand, the desert regions such as Morocco and Algeria had a large supply of salt. The Trans-Saharan trade route helped gold and salt trade take place, providing adequate means of income for both sides of the trade route. Mansa Musa's arrival in Cairo carrying a ton of the metal (1324–25) caused the market in gold to crash, suggesting that the average supply was not as great. African gold was indeed so famous worldwide that a Spanish map of 1375 represents the king of Mali holding a gold nugget. Gold remained the principal product in the trans-Saharan trade, followed by kola nuts and slaves. The Moroccan scholar Leo Africanus, who visited Songhai in 1510 and 1513, observed that the governor of Timbuktu owned many articles of gold, and that the coin of Timbuktu was made of gold without any stamp or superscription.

DISEASESThere is not much record of diseases spread from Africa along Saharan trade route, but the Trans- Saharan trade route opened paths for the Black Death of 1300's and smallpox to arrive in Africa

RELIGION (scroll for more)Islam had already spread into northern Africa by the mid-seventh century A.D. Between the eighth and ninth centuries, Arab traders and travelers began to spread the religion along the eastern coast of Africa stimulating the development of urban communities. The spread of Islam throughout the African continent was neither simultaneous nor uniform. The first converts were the Sudanese merchants, followed by a few rulers. Islamic political and aesthetic influences on African societies remain difficult to assess. In some capital cities, such as Ghana and Gao, the presence of Muslim merchants resulted in the establishment of mosques. The Malian king Mansa Musa’s hajj spread Islam further. Islam brought to Africa the art of writing and new techniques of weighting. In many cases conversion for sub-Saharan Africans was probably a way to protect themselves against being sold into slavery. For their rulers conversion remained somewhat formal, a gesture perhaps aimed at gaining political support from the Arabs. Muslim clerics' literacy and esoteric powers drew scores of converts to Islam. Although Islam has influenced a wide range of artistic practices in Africa since its introduction, monumental architecture is the best-preserved legacy of its early history on the continent. Mosques are the most important architectural examples of the tremendous aesthetic diversity generated by the interaction between African peoples and Islamic faith.

IBN BATTUA--A PRIMARY SOURCE (scroll for more)"My entry into Malli was on the fourteenth of the first month of Jumada in the year '53 (i.e., 753 A.H., 28th June A.D. 1352), and my going out from there was on the twenty-second of Muharram in the year '54 (i.e. 754 AH., 27 February A.D. 1353). I was accompanied by a merchant known as Abu Bakr ibn Yacqub. We set out on the Mima road. I was riding a camel because horses were dear, costing about one hundred mithqals apiece. We reached a large arm of the river which comes out of the Nile (Niger) and which cannot be crossed except in boats. That place has many mosquitoes and nobody passes through except at night. We arrived at the arm of the river in the first third of the night and it was moonlight ... I saw on its bank sixteen beasts with enormous bodies. I was astonished by them. I thought they were elephants because there are plenty there. Then I saw them entering the river and said to Abu Bakr ibn Yacqub. 'What beasts are these?' He said 'These are horses of the river (hippopotami), they have come out to graze on the dry land.' They are more thickset than horses and they have manes and tails, their heads are like the heads of horses and their legs like the legs of elephants. I saw these horses another time when we were travelling on the Nile (Niger) from Tunbuktu to Kawkaw: they were swimming in the water and raising their heads and blowing. The boatmen feared them and came in close to the shore so as not to be drowned by them."

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RESULTS AND CONSEQUENCES (scroll for more)-Helped keep the economies of those apart of the trade stable.-Spread the use of new technology, the compass and cross-bow-Brought in luxury goods to the locations a part of this trade route-Spread the cultures and traditions between the traders-Spread diseases such as bubonic plague to Africa-Thousands of mosques built along route-9 million slaves passed along route from 700-1500-Mansa Musa's trip inspired European interest in African gold

Isha FaziliAlena Zhang


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