Salt trade caravan in 1985

Episode 1.8 – Merchants and Marabouts

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons. Image depicts a Saharan salt caravan in December 1985)

Trade, commerce and religion were the defining elements of the Mali Empire during its golden age. As the source for much of the Old World’s gold, and a center for Islamic learning, West Africa left an indelible mark on world history.

What role did Mali play in all of this, though? 

The Mansas of Mali made protection of trade routes and caravans a priority, and their famous wealth came from taxes levied on the merchants carrying gold north and salt south. Moreover, their direct investment in Islamic centers of learning, such as Timbuktu, helped spark the development of these communities – paving the way for their later golden ages during the period of Songhai rule in the 16th century.

This will be our final episode on social history. We now have just two more episodes remaining in our series on Imperial Mali. Stay tuned – we’ll be announcing season two very soon…