Segments in this Video

Introduction: Empires of Gold (02:21)


Henry Gates Jr. will explore the changing economic landscape of North Africa from the 10th to the 15th centuries when metropolises like Timbuktu and Marrakesh arose.

Abdalla ibn Yasin (05:21)

Abdallah Ibn Yasin, a member of the Jazulah tribe, traveled to Cordova to study in Spain. He introduced an orthodox rule, including whippings, among the Sanaja Berber tribes of Morocco. The Almoravid emerged from the desert to attack Sijilmasa and imposed a fundamentalist regime.

The Sahara Desert (04:14)

The Sanhadja lived in the desert and domesticated camels to travel from Sijilmasa to Sahel. Ghana controlled the gold and merchant trade across the Sahara. In the 10th century, the Almoravid army captured Awdaghust.

Decline of Ghana (03:15)

Ghana converted to Islam by 1100. The Almoravid army incorporated Senegalese soldiers and Berbers into its ranks. After Ibn Yasin was killed in battle, Yusuf ibn Tashfin founded Marrakesh as the capital of the Almoravid empire.

Excavated in 1947 (03:26)

While the Almoravid Koubba appears austere on the outside, the walls inside are adorned with hand carvings. Experts do not know why artisans designed the building.

War Breaks Out (02:44)

After King Alfonso VI seized the city of Toledo in al Andalus, the Muslim leaders of the peninsula begged ibn Tashfin to intercede on their behalf. After he was victorious in the Battle of Zallaqa, an Islamic system was put in place throughout the region. The Almohads overthrew the regime and created its own dynasty in 1147.

City of Fez (06:38)

The Fes el Bali medina is the largest urban pedestrian precinct and all items need to be carried by animals or on bike carts. The University of al-Qarawiyyin is the oldest continually operating educational institution; learn about some of its famous alumni including Averroes and Ibn Khaldun. Tour the Bou Inania Madrasa, which was founded during the 14th century.

Timbuktu (03:13)

The Sankore Mosque attracted academic scholars from across the world. The library contains many handwritten books dating back to the 14th century.

Mali Empire (03:42)

Sundiata Keita founded the empire and controlled the gold trade in Western Africa. Merchants crossed the Sahara Desert bringing salt, gold, and slaves to metropolises.

Personal Possessions (02:10)

Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford examines a saddle bag Qur'an which crossed the desert. Europeans melted down Roman coins to accommodate the growing need for gold.

Mansa Musa's Legacy (04:03)

The Catalan Atlas contained the Mali Empire. Mansa Musa was considered the richest man in the world and went on Hajj in 1324. After the pilgrimage the emperor invested in schools and temples within Timbuktu.

Ife Empire (04:24)

The National Museum of Nigerian Lagos houses the lifelike masks of the Ooni. Kings and courtiers were adorned in elaborate costumes and glass beads. The Yoruba consider Ife the center of the spiritual world.

Obalufon II (04:11)

Obalufon II rebuilt the city after a civil war and commissioned the masks of the Ooni. When Leo Frobenius discovered the artifacts, he believed they came from Atlantis. Art informs the past.

Empires of Gold: Conclusion (02:10)

Artisans and merchants thrived during the Mali, Ghana, and Ife Empires. Great cities arose due to trading, worship, and love of learning. In the Middle Ages, Swahili and Zimbabwe grew to prominence.

Credits: Africa's Great Civilizations— Part 3: Empires of Gold (00:44)

Credits: Africa's Great Civilizations— Part 3: Empires of Gold

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Africa's Great Civilizations—Part 3: Empires of Gold

Part of the Series : Africa's Great Civilizations
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Henry Louis Gates Jr. uncovers the complex trade networks and advanced educational institutions that transformed early north and west Africa from deserted lands into the continent’s wealthiest kingdoms and learning epicentres.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: EDP144352

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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