The Rise of West African Empires (300-1324) - Study Guide

7.4 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the sub-Saharan civilizations of Ghana and Mali in Medieval Africa.

  1. Study the Niger River and the relationship of vegetation zones of forest, savannah, and desert to trade in gold, salt, food, and slaves; and the growth of the Ghana and Mali empires.
  2. Analyze the importance of family, labor specialization, and regional commerce in the development of states and cities in West Africa.
  3. Describe the role of the trans-Saharan caravan trade in the changing religious and cultural characteristics of West Africa and the influence of Islamic beliefs, ethics, and law.
  4. Trace the growth of the Arabic language in government, trade, and Islamic scholarship in West Africa.
  5. Describe the importance of written and oral traditions in the transmission of African history and culture.

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The Rise of West African Empires

Study Guide Questions

    Section 1

  1. What is the Sahel?

  2. What were Africa's valued mineral resources?

  3. What are the three vegetation zones found in West Africa?

  4. How do vegetation and climate in the savannah differ from that in the rain forest?

  5. What types of natural resources were found in West Africa?

  6. How did those resources affect the region's history?

    Section 2

  7. How did increased food supplies benefit Ghana?

  8. Why did the ruler of Ghana limit the gold supply?

  9. Why was ironworking an important skill in ancient times?

  10. How did ironworking help the Soninke establish their empire?

  11. Why was salt so important to West Africa?

  12. How did the various resources and needs of people in different zones influence trade in Africa?

    Section 3

  13. How did Sundiata gain control of the gold-salt trade?

  14. Why did Mansa Musa travel to Mecca?

  15. How did Sundiata become ruler of Mali?

  16. How did Sundiata improve conditions for trade in the region?

  17. How did Mansa Musa's journey affect Cairo's economy?

  18. How did Mansa Musa's journey change Mali's position in the eyes of the world?