1743 French Map of Northwest Africa, depicting the areas covered in this curriculum unit.
Credit: Courtesy of American Memory at the Library of Congress.
Hop (back) in the time capsule and travel to 14th century Timbuktu.Your task is to find out about the origins of the city and discover why it became such an important place. Here's a hint: as the realtors say, “Location is everything.”
Before you start snooping around, think about the questions you'll need to answer for the producers back home at Globe Trekker headquarters:
Timbuktu is a bustling place. The buildings are mostly one-storey and seem to be made of mud plaster.
To see a modern photo go to Mansa Moussa and scroll down the left column to the third picture.)
The streets are covered with a layer of sand. You happen upon an old man sitting against a wall. You sit down and ask him if he knows anything about the local history. Does he! Storytelling is a favorite pastime in West Africa, and he's heard more than one tale about the beginnings of Timbuktu. You sit down beside him, and he begins to share the stories with you.
Be sure to jot down relevant data in your notepad!
Another photo op!
By the mid-13th century, the kingdom of Mali had gained control of the lucrative trade networks of the upper Niger River. During the reign of Mansa Musa, Mali's most famous ruler, Mali expanded to become a sizable empire and reached its peak of prosperity. Timbuktu continued to be an important center of trade as a city in Mali.
The old man pauses, then continues to tell you about the early history of Timbuktu. He speaks of Mali, West Africa's first kingdom.
Location Scouting Summary: Land of the Lion King
Write a report for Globe Trekker on the early years of Timbuktu (from the city's origins until it became a part of Mali). Although your report must be based upon history, feel free to add embellishments, just as the old man has undoubtedly done. Remember, you want to sell the producers on the idea of doing a Globe Trekker episode on Timbuktu.
2 class periods