Culture and Kingdoms in Medieval West Africa. Mrs. Rand University Preparatory School Content Adapted from History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, Teacher’s Curriculum Institute . Early Societies in West Africa. Introduction:
University Preparatory School
Content Adapted from History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, Teacher’s Curriculum Institute
Use this presentation to help you complete assessment worksheets.
You may re-visit this presentation again as you prepare for your unit exams by visiting Mrs. Rand’s ePortfolio website.
This presentation will help you complete assessment worksheets 12, 13, 14, and 15.
Questions to Consider:
To help answer these questions, we must first look at geography.
In the north, West Africa begins in the Sahara Desert. To the west and south it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the east by the mountains of present-day Cameroon.
The geography of West Africa influenced the patterns of trade that developed.
Different resources are found in each of the vegetation zones.
For example, people in the savannah may have traded grains in return for yams or mahogany from the forests.
Several major rivers served as trading routes in West Africa. The Niger is the region’s longest river. It became a kind of trading highway.
The earliest farming communities were made up of extended families.
An extended family includes close relatives such as:
Aunts & Uncles
Children of Aunts and Uncles
An extended family might have 15 to 20 members.
Over time, family communities joined together to form villages.
A village might contain 100 to 200 people.
The village leader was probably chosen for his wisdom.
Banding together in villages allowed people to take advantage of natural resources and protect themselves from attack.
Why did villages grow into cities in West Africa?
Iron-Working & Trade
Iron-working reached West Africa by the 500s B.C.E.
The Nok people were making iron tools by heating and melting iron ore and shaping it into tools and weapons.
Trade: Creating Powerful Kingdoms
Trading cities became powerful empires by collecting taxes from the goods that were bought and sold.
With their wealth, they could afford to raise large armies… and then conquer neighboring territories.
Rulers also collected TRIBUTE from the people they conquered… this could also pay for protection from outside attackers.
Geography was a major factor in the development of societies in West Africa
Settled communities grew up below the Sahara Desert, where the land permitted farming.
Communities traded with one another for items they could not produce locally.
Rivers such as the Niger served as trade routes.
Earliest societies in West Africa were family-based communities.
Iron-making and trade helped some villages grow into towns and cities.
Naturalistic faces occur rarely on pulleys. Senufo artists draw upon a wide repertoire of facial styles that appear on statues for spirits and masks. The large eyed face on this pulley is that of the friendly Tugubele spirits of the forest.
Trade brought cities great wealth.
Wealthiest cities conquered neighboring areas, leading to the rise of kingdoms and empires.
Rulers gained even more wealth through tribute as well as control of trade.
The earliest writings about the kingdom of Ghana come from Arab scholars… why do you think this is the case??
In this section you will learn about Ghana’s government and military.
All the gold nuggets, or chunks, found in the kingdom had to be given to the king.
Other people could only have the gold dust.
Each day, the king held court with his people. The king arrived to court to the beating of royal drums.
He was splendidly dressed in colorful robes, gold jewelry, and a cap decorated with gold.
His people showed respect for him by kneeling and throwing dust on their heads as he approached.