Ghana Dynasty: 600 - 1200 AD

Major Accomplishments: 

•First united W. Africa civilization,
•traded gold with Muslims in the north,
•built small cities,
•leaders converted to Islam,
•camels used for trade across the Sahara to the Abbasid Muslim cities along the N. African coast;
•oral historical tradition

Ghana Civilization Video:


The Empire of Ghana was founded in 750 C.E. by West African tribes. The capital was located in Koumbi Saleh, which is located in present day countries Mali and Mauritania. They built their economy on trade because of their great accomplishment of gold mining. They also had many other tradable goods. This brought many people to the empire through trans-Saharan trade. The empire spread very quickly and grew very rapidly. The empire became very large and had large cities in its five hundred year long rule.


Ghana Economics and Trade

 In 750 C.E, the Ghana Empire began when economic shifts allowed civilizations to form. West African Tribes took advantage of this and thus created Ghana. The Empire was during the height of trade and during the golden age of iron. They mined gold, which caused many people to come for trading. The Empire was very wealthy just as well as the people who lived there. They had a very tight military that could summon twenty thousand soldiers with one command.  The entire reign of Ghana was built around trade. Trade allowed the Empire to form. Once settled, they domesticated the camel which helped with trans-Saharan trade. They could not travel across the dessert without worry. They traded salt which helped their bodies replenish due to the heat and helped restore sodium levels throughout the body. Whether people lived there or were traveling, salt was a very large necessity in the intrusive heat. Also traded, was ivory. Not only was it used to build but it was beautiful and many people wanted it. They had many goods that they traded, but the most demanded product was gold. It was a sign of wealth and had a large amount of beauty. Gold was in higher demand then than it is now. So the Empire became very wealthy, and very fast. Because of their traded goods, they could exchange goods on the Silk Road. They could interact with people from the Middle East and Europe while traveling and enjoying travelers.


Reasons for Success of Ghana

The Empire grew due to many contributing factors. The location of the empire was surrounded by African tribes that formed together and joined the empire. The population grew over time due to natural factors. Also, the Empire spread to grow crops and mine gold which helped them with trade. Expanding also helped them gain control of more cities that were the location of trade hubs. This resulted in more wealth from the Empire as a whole. People could own very large amounts of land and thus spreading the empire even further. Along with helping with population growth because the civilization was very wealthy and had a large amount of gold. Trade brought travelers, merchants, and traders. All three brought trading goods and new customs but some of the people decided to stay in Ghana instead of returning to their home. They all saw how happy everyone was in a rich Empire and people wanted to live there too.


Fall of Ghana

This did not last; however, when their General Abu-Bakr died the decline of the Empire of Ghana began. The Empire began to fall apart and was over thrown by the Soninkes.


Semi divine leader
Many convert from tribal religions to Islam so they could trade with N. Africa more easily; gold, salt and used camels for transportation
Originally a spoken language only but when Muslims come they begin using a written language as well
Cowry Shells used for money and jewelry