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13.1 Empire of Ghana.

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1 13.1 Empire of Ghana

2 The Big Idea: The rulers of Ghana built an empire by controlling the salt and gold trade.

3 Main Idea 1: Ghana controlled trade and became wealthy.

4 Ghana Controls Trade Sometime after 300 the first farmers in Ghana, the Soninke (some of the earliest people in West Africa), were threatened by nomadic herders. The Soninke began to band together for protection, forming the beginnings of Ghana. They grew in strength, learning to work with iron. They used iron farm tools to produce more food, allowing the population to increase. They also made superior iron weapons.

5 Ghana Controls Trade For hundreds of years West Africans did not profit from the trade routes that crisscrossed the region because they were run by Berbers from North Africa. Ghana lay between the vast Sahara Desert and deep forests, a good position to trade in the region’s most valuable resources, gold and salt. Ghana was the first kingdom in West Africa to gain control of trade routes.


7 Gold and Salt Gold Gold came from the south, from mines near the Gulf of Guinea and along the Niger River. People wanted gold for its beauty. Salt Salt came from the Sahara in the north. People needed salt to survive. It could preserve food, and made bland food tasty.

8 Salt



11 Trading Gold and Salt The exchange of gold and salt sometimes followed a silent barter (process in which people exchange goods without ever contacting each other directly.) Helped ensure traders did business peacefully Kept exact location of gold mines a secret from salt traders

12 Trading Gold and Salt As trade increased, Ghana’s rulers gained power.
Their military strength grew as well. Began to take control of trade routes Rulers of Ghana became wealthy.

13 Trading Gold and Salt Additional sources of wealth and trade included wheat, sheep, cattle, honey, leather, cloth, and tassels made from golden thread. As trade increased, Ghana’s capital, Koumbi Saleh became West Africa’s largest city and a great trading center.


15 Main Idea 2: Through its control of trade, Ghana built an empire.

16 By 800 Ghana was firmly in control of West Africa’s trade routes.
Traders were protected by Ghana’s army. Ghana’s rulers made money by forcing traders to pay taxes. The people of Ghana also had to pay taxes, and conquered neighboring tribes had to pay tribute.

17 Ghana’s mines produced huge amounts of gold, which was officially the property of the king.
The rulers banned anyone else in Ghana from owning gold nuggets. Common people could own only gold dust.

18 Expansion of the Empire
Ghana’s kings used their wealth to build a powerful army and conquer many of their neighbors. Many conquered areas were trade centers, bringing more wealth. Travel and communication were difficult in their large empire, so they allowed conquered kings to retain much of their power. The empire of Ghana reached its peak under Tunka Manin.

19 Main Idea 3: Attacking invaders, overgrazing, and the loss of trade caused Ghana’s decline.

20 Invasion The Muslim Almoravids attacked Ghana in the 1060s.
Destroyed the city of Koumbi Saleh They cut off trade routes and formed new partnerships with Muslim leaders. Without trade, Ghana could no longer support its empire.


22 Overgrazing The Almoravids brought herds of animals with them.
The animals overgrazed, leaving the soil to blow away. Unable to grow crops, many farmers had to leave.


24 Internal Rebellion In about 1200 the people of one of the areas Ghana had conquered rose up in rebellion. Within a few years the rebels had taken over Ghana. Weakened, Ghana was defeated by one of its neighbors.

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