The kingdom of Ghana was rich! Ancient Ghana is located in a different place than the modern country of Ghana in West Africa.
But even earlier than the trading that went on between east and west Africa, the kingdom of Ghana acted as guards for the traders from the north, and the traders from the south.
Ghana was in the middle. Ghana was a great military power in ancient times. They had an army offighting men. People in the north had salt mines. People in the south had gold mines. Ghana had an army that could protect the traders. Ghana charged a fee for their protection in gold and in salt and in other goods. This arrangement worked well for everyone.
Ghana became rich. The people in Ghana were very happy. They worked hard, but they were safe and protected. They benefited from the wealth that poured into the empire. The king and nobles lived in the best houses, but they too were comfortable. They had plenty to eat. The Niger River ran through ancient Ghana.
The river provided water for bathing and washing. There were ample fish and waterfowl to eat. The people also farmed. They grew sweet potatoes and other vegetables. No one went hungry in ancient Ghana.
They were creative people. Their artists wove cotton fabrics. They designed these fabrics by painting wet mud on woven cloth, and then placing the fabric in the sun to dry.
This created a permanent design in the cloth. It was very clever and very unique.By Xuan Chau, a fine pianist.
In a land not far away, in West Africa, you will find an ancient city. Actually, more like an ancient city of gold. To be exact, the name of this city is Ghana. Ghana is located directly of northeast Africa, close to the Niger and many other rivers.
This city dated far back as the year B. C to A. Ghana was one of the few ancient cities that rose at its time. Possibly the main factor that kept this city alive, was trade. Archeologists can easily picture what trading in Ghana was like.
The promotion of Ghana's foreign trade has been central to all government plans to revive the economy since These included devaluing the currency as well as raising producer prices for crucial exports such as cocoa, salt and gold, kola beans, and different virgin materials. The taxes were run by the king. He collected taxes off every single trade item that entered the city. This included slaves, and domesticated animals. Some of the items that were shipped through trade routs were nuts and berries, leather and ivory, nuggets, iron, cloth and cotton, hides, and wood.
Although most of the items Ghana traded were harvested, most of them fell under the major categories: salt and gold. Reason salt and gold were so popular, is because first of all, they were easy to find, often in caves or underground digging mines. These were harvested by miners and many other people. Alone, salt supported and replaced what is lost in sweat.
This was especially important in hot and humid places. Trading salt was what made Ghana such a rich empire. In fact, one pound of salt in Ghana would cost as much as 25 dinars, about ounces of gold. Gold alone was important because it was worth a lot of money, and since Ghana had no trouble finding it, it also made the city rich.African Art - The Market of Masks (Documentary of 2015)
Most families wore gold as jewelry. But these were not all they traded. Slaves were especially important in Ghana because they completed jobs without payment while Ghanaians were away.Traditional Ghanaian architecture was driven by the raw material available for buildings, such as thatch for roofing and mud and wood for walls. Today, such buildings are rare, although modern architects try to borrow some of their elements when designing and constructing buildings.
In addition, British colonialism also left behind many landmarks, including Victorian-style towers, slave castle and forts. Here are some of the buildings in Ghana that are admired not just for their beauty, but also for the position they have etched in history.
Ancient Ghana: The West African Kingdom & Land of Gold
The Larabanga Mosque in the Northern region is the oldest mosque in Ghana, and one of the oldest in West Africa, thought to date back to This black-and-white Sahelian structure has a distinct mud minaret with wooden poles jutting out, similar to other mosques in West Africa such as those found in Timbuktuas well as other buildings with ancient Sudanese architecture.
The Larabanga Mosque shows the relationship between present-day Ghana and the Western Saharan empires such as Ghana, Mali and Songhai, which had a strong influence on the sub-region.
It represents the fortitude of these architectural styles, which have survived for centuries and continue to be a popular destination for tourists. The Gold Coast, a former British colony, was a major hub for the enterprise of slavery in the past. The Ghanaian coastline, stretching around km mi. Built in the 15th century by the Portugueseit was a major point of departure for millions of slaves to the New World.
Its design is akin to other buildings such as the Christiansborg Castle in Accra or the Elmina Castlewith its similar walls, narrow hallways, dungeons and network of tunnels. All of these slave forts and castles are major tourist sites today, and are talking points for the true nature of slavery. Yet today, with all of the other modern minimalist-inspired buildings around it in the centre of Accra, its dome-like roof resembling the Sydney Opera House stands out from the crowd. These apartments are reserved for the affluent in Ghana who can afford the pricey rents and keep up appearances.
Nevertheless, Villaggio is a visual joy and a unique addition to the Accra skyline. These four buildings represent a small fraction of the extreme architectural beauty that the country has to offer.
In all the other towns and cities in Ghana, many other buildings exist that will wow you with their splendour. Select currency. Africa Ghana. Architecture is one of the first things to notice and the last to forget when visiting a city or country, and Ghana is no exception. The dynamic use of space, which incorporates designs, motifs, colour and other symbolic accents, lends characteristics to the landscape.
Ghana has a unique blend of ancient and modern architecture, influenced by its illustrious history and the ideas of brilliant minds who memorialised various epochs in the walls of some of the buildings. The Larabanga Mosque. Cape Coast Castle. The National Theatre. Villaggio Vista. Read Next.Gold in Wagadugu Most of what we know about ancient Ghana — which is more accurately called Wagadugu — is based on writings of Arab travelers who came in contact with the nation's peoples.
By B. The region was rich in gold, and its acquisition meant that Ghana would become a leading force in the trans-Saharan trade network. The golden stool of the Ashanti kings of Ghana, a symbol of their power, has not been seen by the general public for years.
African Art Museum
Its location is kept secret, and a replica is used for public display. Ghanaian Politics The leader of all leaders was the king, who was also known as the ghanaor war chief. His word was law. He served as the commander in chief of a highly organized army, the controller of all trade activities, and the head administrator of justice.
Mayors, civil servants, counselors, and ministers were appointed by the king to assist with administrative duties — but at all times, the king was in charge. Each day, the king assembled his court and allowed people to publicly voice their complaints. Beating drums that resounded throughout the area signaled the courts assemblage and people gathered to speak their minds. Whether they were neighborly conflicts, or cases of violated rights, the king listened to the complaints and gave his judgment.
Such hearings were reportedly peaceful, unless they involved issues of criminal nature. Two of the most serious criminal offenses were the denial of debt and the shedding of blood. These crimes were tried by ordeal. Ghanaian citizens were not the only ones put to the king's test. Inhabitants of its conquered lands were examined for their good behavior and loyalty as well. In territories where order and obedience prevailed, and taxes were properly paid, autonomy was granted.
But in areas which struggled for independence or defied the king's laws, Ghanaian governors were appointed as watchdogs and little went unreported to the king. When the king was not busy enforcing his power among the people, he was spreading it internationally through trade.
At its peak, Ghana was chiefly bartering gold, ivory, and slaves for salt from Arabs and horses, cloth, swords, and books from North Africans and Europeans. With this system, it is no wonder that Ghana got rich quickly. The wealth that the kingdom acquired did not, however, serve in its favor forever. Competition from other states in the gold trade eventually took its toll. Jealousy, fear, and anger of Ghana's power prompted its neighbors to stand up against the kingdom.
Their efforts were at first weak and insignificant, but eventually, in the midth century, a Muslim group known as the Almoravids launched a devastating invasion on the capital city of Koumbi Saleh.
Though territories were seized, and a tribute tax was enforced, Ghana recovered and forced the invaders to withdraw. A little less than years later, however, Ghana was not so lucky. Weakened by subsequent attacks, and cut-off from international trade, the kingdom was vulnerable and unable to prevent defeat.Ghanafirst of the great medieval trading empires of western Africa fl.
Ghana was populated by Soninke clans of Mande -speaking people who acted as intermediaries between the Arab and Amazigh Berber salt traders to the north and the producers of gold and ivory to the south. The empire should not be confused with the modern Republic of Ghana. An unconfirmed tradition dates the origins of the kingdom to the 4th century ce. Nothing is known of the political history of Ghana under its early kings. The first written references to the empire are those of Arabic geographers and historians from the 8th century, and it seems certain that, byGhana had become rich and powerful.
The king was able to enforce obedience from lesser groups and to exact tribute from them. Much of the empire was ruled through tributary princes who were probably the traditional chiefs of these subject clans.
There the gold was exchanged for commodities, the most important of which was salt, that had been transported southward by northern African caravans. It also incorporated some of the gold-producing lands to its south and such south-Saharan cities to the north as Audaghosta famous market that has since disappeared. The subject peoples of the empire began to break away, and inone of these, the Susuoccupied the capital.
In the city was destroyed by the Mande emperor Sundiataand what was left of the empire of Ghana was incorporated into his new empire of Mali. Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Ghana historical West African empire. See Article History. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. The Muslim sources, which are broadly confirmed by local tradition, indicate that the kingdom of Kanem was being formed during the 9th and 10th centuries through an interaction between Saharan nomads and….
Ghana was effectively destroyed by the Almoravid invasion ofand its hegemony was ultimately assumed by the Mandinka empire of Mali 13th—15th centuryfounded around the upper Niger. Almoravid attacks in the 11th century reduced its power…. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Dayevery day in your inbox! Email address. By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox.
More About. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.I have always been a sucker for art, history, literature, music — you get the picture. I went there because I was bored and I needed inspiration.
I find it creatively refreshing to be in a different environment or to be surrounded by inspiring people or articles. The National Museum has been around for as long as Ghana has been independent, yet being a Ghanaian living in Ghana all my life, I have never heard much about it.
The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum is far more popular than this is. I cannot explain why that is but I can speculate. Are Ghanaian selectively interested in just some aspects of their culture and history and not the whole? Well, that is not the focus of my post. There was so much history and art on not just Ghana, but the whole world on display! I was absolutely shocked circling the artefacts in the galleries.
I did not know how to react to it. When I got there, I thought it was closed. The place was dead quiet. I spent about two hours and all I could kept on hearing was the occasional chatter of the employees. No one else came in and from the looks of things, it did not seem like the museum is heavily patronized. However, that did not deter me from enjoy the art and learning my history. I was sad not to know a lot about the history of Ghana, despite having studied history of Africa and Ghana at a point in time in my life.
There is just so much out there, that is ours and we should be proud of. I used to be one of the people who did not see the importance of history. Well, I would kindly like to educate you should you fall in this group. History instills in the people a sense of national pride. This is not theoretical but very practical. This is all because of how they have celebrated their history, making every citizen respects that history and want be a part of the history.
I managed to chance upon an art exhibition by contemporary Ghanaian artist. I honestly do not know what to say about this.
My pictures may be able to describe the richness of the art but certainly not the experience. Art is life and the exhibition confirmed Ghanaians are marvelous at art. Should you happen to be in Accra, try to visit the museum. You might learn something you never knew. Please be proud of your history!
Sign up for the Thought Catalog Weekly and get the best stories from the week to your inbox every Friday. You may unsubscribe at any time.
By subscribing, you agree to the terms of our Privacy Statement. Scope of Gallery There was so much history and art on not just Ghana, but the whole world on display!
National Pride I used to be one of the people who did not see the importance of history. Contemporary Art I managed to chance upon an art exhibition by contemporary Ghanaian artist. More From Thought Catalog.Gold Trade and the Kingdom of Ancient Ghana Around the fifth century, thanks to the availability of the camel, Berber-speaking people began crossing the Sahara Desert.
From the eighth century onward, annual trade caravans followed routes later described by Arabic authors with minute attention to detail. Gold, sought from the western and central Sudan, was the main commodity of the trans-Saharan trade. The traffic in gold was spurred by the demand for and supply of coinage.
The rise of the Soninke empire of Ghana appears to be related to the beginnings of the trans-Saharan gold trade in the fifth century. From the seventh to the eleventh century, trans-Saharan trade linked the Mediterranean economies that demanded gold—and could supply salt—to the sub-Saharan economies, where gold was abundant. Although local supply of salt was sufficient in sub-Saharan Africa, the consumption of Saharan salt was promoted for trade purposes.
In the eighth and ninth centuries, Arab merchants operating in southern Moroccan towns such as Sijilmasa bought gold from the Berbers, and financed more caravans.
These commercial transactions encouraged further conversion of the Berbers to Islam. The Soninke managed to keep the source of their gold the Bambuk mines, most notably secret from Muslim traders.
The Beauty of Ghanaian Architecture In Four Buildings
Yet gold production and trade were important activities that undoubtedly mobilized hundreds of thousands of African people.
Leaders of the ancient kingdom of Ghana accumulated wealth by keeping the core of pure metal, leaving the unworked native gold to be marketed by their people. By the end of the twelfth century, however, Ghana had lost its domination of the western Sudan gold trade.
Trans-Saharan routes began to bypass Audaghost, expanding instead toward the newly opened Bure goldfield. Soso, the southern chiefdom of the Soninke, gained control of Ghana as well as the Malinke, the latter eventually liberated by Sundiata Keita, who founded the Mali empire.
Mali rulers did not encourage gold producers to convert to Islamsince prospecting and production of the metal traditionally depended on a number of beliefs and magical practices that were alien to Islam.
In the fourteenth century, cowrie shells were introduced from the eastern coast as local currency, but gold and salt remained the principal mediums of long-distance trade. The flow of sub-Saharan gold to the northeast probably occurred in a steady but small stream. Undoubtedly, some of this African gold was also used in Western gold coins.
When Mossi raids destroyed the Mali empire, the rising Songhai empire relied on the same resources. Gold remained the principal product in the trans-Saharan trade, followed by kola nuts and slaves. The Moroccan scholar Leo Africanus, who visited Songhai in andobserved that the governor of Timbuktu owned many articles of gold, and that the coin of Timbuktu was made of gold without any stamp or superscription.
Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Cave Stones. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Works of Art 9. Essay Gold Trade and the Kingdom of Ancient Ghana Around the fifth century, thanks to the availability of the camel, Berber-speaking people began crossing the Sahara Desert. Chronology Eastern and Southern Africa, — A.
Eastern and Southern Africa, — A. Guinea Coast, — A. Western and Central Sudan, — A. Western Sudan, — A.