1743 French Map of Northwest Africa, depicting the areas covered in this curriculum unit.
Credit: Courtesy of American Memory at the Library of Congress.
The trade network that flourished in West Africa led to the rise of a number of important cities. Timbuktu is a prime example. From rather humble beginnings, it grew to become the heart of commerce in the kingdom of Mali.
Timbuktu was founded at the dawn of the 12th century. Given the active trade network that already existed in the local region, it wasn't long before it became an important stopping place for merchants.
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.
Be a West African storyteller. (They're known as griots.) Tell the story of Timbuktu - from its origins until it became a part of Mali. Or, lacking a proper audience, write down the tale as you would have told it.
2 class periods