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The Ghana Empire
Transcript of The Ghana Empire
Ghana was the most important trading state in West Africa from about 300-1,000 AD.
The main center of trade was Koumbi Saleh.
Most of the information about the economy of Ghana comes from merchants, and therefore we know more about the commercial aspects of its economy, and less about the way in which the rulers and nobles may have obtained agricultural products through tribute or taxation.
Ghana became very rich by taxing all of their inports and exports.
The king taxed people to protect the trading routes from raiders.
Imports: silk, cotton, glass beads, horses, mirrors, dates, textiles, books, tools, slaves and salt
Exports: pepper, slaves (war prisoners), ivory, silk, spice, textiles, jewelry and GOLD
They had a rich and stable economy that lasted over several centuries.
They traded grain, cattle and metal.
When camels were introduced, transportation of products and goods was much more efficiently distributed across the Sahara.
Ghana controlled the Trans-Sahara trade route.
The silent barter system was started by Ghana, which did not involve any communication between the 2 trading kingdoms. Instead of meeting and arguing a price, gold would be left at a special place, and the traders would simply come and take it from that secret place. If the desired goods were not left in the same place, in return, then the trade would immediately stop. It was a very effective and useful way of trading because the trading kingdoms often could not speak the same language.
The Ghana Empire scattered its people among territories, forming a confederation of kingdoms. These kingdoms were led by an emperor along with a dominant royal warrior tribe. This tribe guided the emperor through decision-making, and supervised government affairs. This government was matrimonial, which means that each emperor’s sister’s son inherited the throne.
The Ghana Empire’s most dominant and influential royal warrior tribe was the Soninkes. This tribe obtained power from the Berber tribe in 700. In order for tribes to become dominant royal warrior tribes, they had to obtain, or overpower, the current ruling tribe.
The social classes of the Ghana Empire were determined by your occupation. For example, one of the social classes was a farmer. If you were a farmer, you provided food for the people and the emperor. There were also miners, as well as artists and mayors who were appointed by the emperor to lead cities in the Ghana Empire. Farmers were lowest among the social classes, and being a mayor was the highest position. You were born into your social class, and it was passed down through generations. It was only possible to switch or perform in one or more social class if you were skilled enough.
Capitals and cities
· The Ghana Empire’s capital was Kumbi Saleh, which was on the edge of the Sahara Desert. The other cities were Awdaghost and Walata.
The Ghana Empire laid between the Niger and Senegal Rivers, so they were able to use both of those for water supply.
The Sahara desert covers most of the Ghana Empire, and the Atlantic Ocean laid to the west.
The Ghana Empire has a primarily tropical climate.
It’s warm and mostly dry along the southeast coast.
It is hot and humid in the southwest, and hot and dry in the north.
The north of the Ghana Empire is primarily savannah.
The middle section of Ghana Empire is primarily rain forest.
ancient Ghanaian religion was a mixture of supernatural and spiritual powers
believed in co-existstence of plant, animal, and human souls
practiced ancestor veneration: the worship of their ancestors
believed ancestors were mediators to the gods
made sacrifices to ancestors in hopes to appease them
scared that ancestors could get angry and bring them bad luck if they didn't make offerings
9th century: Islam introduced by Muslim traders
1706: Almoravids, who were Muslim, conquer Ghana
they tried to make Islam the only religion of Ghana, but failed
Approximately 1/2 of Ghana practiced traditional Ghanaian religion, while the other 1/2 practiced Islam and built mosques
15th century: Christian, Portuguese missionaries settle on coast of Ghana and start to spread Christianity
Ghana was populated by Soninke clans of Mande-speaking people
Soninke: clan located in Senegal near the Senegal river and in neighboring areas of west Africa, that spoke Mande and founded Ghana
Mande: language of the Niger-Congo family
these citizens acted as intermediaries between the Arab and Berber salt traders (to the north) and producers of gold and ivory (in the south)
Ghana was a land full of Gold
after mining gold for a long time, they came up with the idea of gold jewelry
well known for wood carvings, which they used as tools of worship
when they found out about weaving, they learned how to create many different types of cloth (they sometimes used European silks from trade)
able to build 3 different kinds of house for the environment they had to live in:
traditional round hut w/ grass roof (mostly found in northern regions) and connected houses in more enclosed areas (mostly found in the south)
later on building single homes became popular
no one went hungry due to Niger River that ran through ancient Ghana
ample in fish and waterfowl to eat
people also farmed- sweet potatoes and other vegetables
Niger river also provided water for bathing and washing
• In 1240 AD, the Ghana Empire was controlled by Sundiata.
•It was absorbed into the larger Mali Empire, reached its peak of success under Mansa Musa around 1307.
•The Ghana Empire gained their power and wealth from gold and the introduction of camels, which increased the quantity of goods that were transported.
•They sold slaves, salt, and copper in exchange for textiles, beads, and finished goods.
•The time that the Ghana Empire arose is unknown to historians. However, it is believed that at the beginning of the first millennium AD, it is thought that a number of clans of the Soninke people came together under a leader with semi-divine status, called Dinga Cisse.
•There were a number of reasons for Ghana's decline: the King lost his trading monopoly, the drought was beginning to rake a long-term affect on the land and was unable to support cattle and cultivation, and it was also under the pressure of outside forces.
•Around 1235, the empire was taken over by the Mali empire.