Chp.3 -1 Kindom of Ghana

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Chapter 3 Ghana


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Kingdoms of Africa

Early Africa:

Early Africa The earliest fossils we have found of creatures considered human beings have come from Africa. So it seems likely that Africa was the birthplace of human beings!

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West Africa was the home of three great civilizations; Ghana, Mali & Songhay.

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Empire of Ghana:

Empire of Ghana The Big Idea The rulers of Ghana built an empire by controlling the salt and gold trade. Main Ideas Ghana controlled trade and became wealthy. Through its control of trade, Ghana built an empire. Attacking invaders, overgrazing, and the loss of trade caused Ghana’s decline.

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

Main Idea 1: Ghana controlled trade and became wealthy. Sometime after 300 the first farmers in Ghana, the Soninke, 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. 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.

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Ghana developed in West Africa between the Niger (NI-jhur) and the Gambia Rivers. It was an important kingdom there from about AD300 to about 1100. The rivers helped Ghana to grow rich because they were used to transport goods and develop trade. Ghana also collected taxes from traders who passed through the kingdom. The people called their nation Wagadu; we know it as Ghana --that was the word for war chief.

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Niger River

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The kingdom of Ghana probably began when several clans of the Soninke people of west Africa came together under the leadership of a great king named Dinga Cisse. Ghana had few natural resources except salt and gold. They were also very good at making things from iron. Ghanaian warriors used iron tipped spears to subdue their neighbors, who fought with weapons made of stone, bone, and wood.

Gold and Salt:

Gold and Salt Gold Gold came from the south, from mines near the Gulf of Guinea and along the Niger. 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.

Trading Gold and Salt:

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 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. 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.

Gold & Salt Trade:

Gold & Salt Trade Ghana, Mali & Songhai have lots of gold. They need salt to preserve food, add flavors, etc. North Africans (above Sahara) have salt, want gold to use as money. This means people cross the Sahara Desert to trade salt and gold.

Gold Mines:

Gold Mines The Kingdom of Ghana never owned gold mines or salt mines. But the kingdoms to the south had so much gold that miners were allowed to keep all the gold dust they found. Only the nuggets had to be turned in for trade. (All gold had to be turned in after the arrival of the caravans of Arab traders.) Artists to the south and in Ghana used gold to make beautiful statues and jewelry. They made gold drinking glasses and plates and decorative objects. Ghana was dripping in gold.

Phoenician traders established Carthage in order to gain access to this treasure: rock salt from West Africa. :

Phoenician traders established Carthage in order to gain access to this treasure: rock salt from West Africa. To get the gold Ghana wanted, Ghana traded gold with the kingdoms to the north for salt. Then, they traded salt with the kingdoms in the south for gold. The various kingdoms in West Africa made very good trading partners. They each had something the other wanted. The north had salt. The south had gold. Ghana was in the middle. Ghana handled the trades. Trades were even, ounce for ounce - an ounce of gold for an ounce of salt. Both sides - north and south - paid Ghana a tribute to handle the trades. Although Ghana never owned gold and salt mines, they controlled the trade between the kingdoms to the north and the kingdoms to the south. Gold for Salt

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"The King . . .(wears). . . necklaces round his neck and bracelets on his forearms and he puts on a high cap decorated with gold and wrapped in a turban of fine cotton. He (meets people) in a domed pavilion around which stand ten horses covered with gold-embroidered materials…and on his right, are the sons of the (lesser) kings of his country, wearing splendid garments and their hair plaited with gold. At the door of the pavilion are dogs of excellent pedigree. Round their necks they wear collars of gold and silver, studded with a number of balls of the same metals."

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

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

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Ghana became a rich and powerful nation, especially when the camel began to be used as a source of transport. Ghana relied on trade and trade was made faster and bigger with the use of the camel.

Camels: Ships of the Desert:

Camels: Ships of the Desert Around 750 CE, everything changed when Islamic traders began to use camels to transports goods across the Sahara Desert. The use of camels made it possible to get from Kush to West Africa, to literally get from here to there. Camels were the perfect answer. Camels can carry heavy loads. They can keep their footing in sliding sand. They can go a long time without water. If treated well, they’re patient beasts. On flat ground, they can run very fast. In fact, they run so fast that if you stopped at an oasis, you might find a camel race in progress. Every trader knew his camels were the best! Camels soon were nicknamed the “Ships of the Desert”.

Caravans of Camels:

Caravans of Camels Caravans of camels were loaded with trade goods. They carried many wonderful products including spices from India and iron tools and weapons from Kush. The day the first caravan of camels headed west into the Sahara Desert was the day that marked the opening of the Trans-Sahara Trade Route.

Ghana Becomes RICH:

Ghana Becomes RICH With the arrival of camel trains, the caravans, the Kingdom of Ghana expanded their control to include trade with the foreigners. They traded gold for spices and other luxury goods as well as salt. The King of Ghana was a very wise man. He did three things that he felt would protect his people:


TAXES The first thing he did was charge a tax (a tribute, a tariff) on all people entering and leaving Ghana. This tax was paid in salt, iron, peacock feathers, fine silk, spices, and other luxury goods. In exchange, Ghana warriors kept the trade routes open and protected from raiders. As long as the traders paid the tax, traders could pass in peace. It was the tax that made Ghana rich.


SILENT BARTER The second thing he did was to establish a system of silent barter. Rather than meet and argue a price, gold would be left at a special place for the traders to take. If ample goods were not left in exchange, all trade ceased. The traders of Ghana did not speak the language of many of the new traders who crossed the Sahara via the Trans-Sahara Trade Routes. This system of silent barter worked very well . Traders were afraid to leave too little. They knew Ghana would stop trading. If anything, they left more than they normally would, to keep relations good and trade flowing.

Second City:

Second City The King of Ghana did not wish traders to enter his city on a routine basis or in an uncontrolled manner. To protect his people, he built a second city for the traders located about 6 miles from the main capital. The capital remained a city for the king and his people. The other, the new part of the city, was reserved for Muslim traders, merchants, and foreigners. This system worked very well . It allowed the people of Ghana to continue to worship in a way that was familiar and comfortable to them. It encouraged the traders to worship in their way, in the many mosques they built in the new city. The people of Ghana were very religious. They knew you had to treat the gods with respect unless you wanted big trouble.

Expansion of the Empire:

Expansion of the Empire Travel and communication were difficult in their large empire, so they allowed conquered kings to retain much of their power. 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. The empire of Ghana reached its peak under Tunka Manin.

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

Main Idea 3: Attacking invaders, overgrazing, and the loss of trade caused Ghana’s decline. 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. 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. 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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After 700 AD, the religion of Islam began to spread over northern Africa. Followers of this religion are called Muslims. Muslim warriors came into Ghana and fought with the non-Islamic people there. This weakened the great civilization of Ghana. Local warriors then decided to break away from the power of Ghana and form their own local kingdoms. This ended many of the trade networks. This eventually weakened the civilization of Ancient Ghana. Islamic Mosque in Ghana travel/ghana/

The Gold Coast :

The Gold Coast As more and more traders braved the Trans-Sahara Trade Routes, bringing spices and silks to Ghana, and taking gold in trade, the Kingdom of Ghana flourished. Ghana and other West African kingdoms soon became collectively known as The Gold Coast .

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