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The buildings of the Mali Empire, some of which like the Sankore mosque in Timbuktu still stand, are one of the most recognisable features of the region and have become international symbols of Africa’s rich pre-colonial history. Cartwright, Mark. Read more about the country of Mali here. Subjects include human figures, especially bearded warriors riding a horse but also many kneeling or crouching figures with upturned faces. In this article, we have provided 11 interesting facts about Mali that serves as a stepping-stone to learning more about Mali. Map of the Mali Empire, c. 1337 CEby Gabriel Moss (CC BY-SA). In 1240 CE Sundiata captured the old Ghana capital. The great empire known as Mali thrived in West Africa from the 1200s to the 1500s. It was protected by mountains and was close to the two key sources of trade goods: forests and waterways. Mali’s rise begins when the political leaders of Ghana could not reestablish that empire’s former glory following its conquest and occupation by the Almoravids in 1076. The Mali Empire was at its strongest under … It has featured in films, video games, works of fiction, and its memory is still a profound force in the articulation of social and political identities across Mande West Africa. Please help us create teaching materials on Mesopotamia (including several complete lessons with worksheets, activities, answers, essay questions, and more), which will be free to download for teachers all over the world. The Empire of Mali was one of the largest empires in West African History, and at its height, it spanned from the Atlantic Coast to central parts of the Sahara desert [i]. Sundiata Keita (aka Sunjaata or Sundjata, r. 1230-1255 CE) was a Malinke prince, whose name means ‘lion prince’, and he waged war against the kingdom of Sosso from the 1230s CE. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. The country has unique musical traditions. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. The king had certain mystical qualities attributed to him, and all slaves were exclusively loyal to him. The buildings of the Mali Empire, some of which like the Sankore mosque in Timbuktu still stand, are one of the most recognisable features of the region and have become international symbols of Africa’s rich pre-colonial history. The Mali Empire was a west African country from 1235 to 1645.The Mandinka people lived there. The Mali rulers had a triple income: they taxed the passage of trade goods, bought goods and sold them on at much higher prices, and had access to their own valuable natural resources. Mali was the cradle of the Empire of Ghana, West Africa’s very first black empire. Other examples of the Mali baked-mud buildings which impress today, although many are early 20th-century CE reconstructions, include the huge mosques at Mopti and Djenne. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Mali_Empire/. At the time, it had the second largest army on Earth. Forming a centralised government of tribal leaders and a number of influential Arab merchants, this assembly (gbara) declared Sundiata the supreme monarch and gave him such honorary titles as Mari Diata (Lord Lion). Ancient History Encyclopedia. It is roughly twice the size of Texas, the second largest American state. Mali is a country with a long history and great ancient civilization. Women wear matching head covers. At its height of power during the 14th century, the Mali Empire ruled over an area larger than western Europe. Not much is known about the rulers after this, until c. 1200, … It was also decreed that all future kings would be selected from the Keita clan, although the title was not necessarily given to the eldest son of a ruler, which sometimes led to fierce disputes among candidates. The history of the territory of modern Mali may be divided into: Pre-Imperial Mali, before the 13th century; The history of the eponymous Mali Empire and of the Songhai Empire during the 13th to 16th centuries; The borders of Mali are those of French Sudan, drawn in 1891. He controlled lands up to the Gambia and lower Senegal in the west; in the north, tribes were subdued along the whole length of the Western Sahara border region; in the east, control spread up to Gao on the Niger River and, to the south, the Bure region and the forests of what became known as the Gold Coast came under Mali oversight. 3. No person had the right to be in the king’s presence when he ate, for example, and all visitors before him had to be barefoot and bow down and pour dust over their heads. Mali was the cradle of the Empire of Ghana, West Africa’s very first black empire. Let’s have a look at the top interesting facts about Mali! As more people were converted, so more Muslim clerics were attracted from abroad and the religion was spread further across West Africa. The Songhai Empire expanded its power from its center in Gao during the period 1465-1530. Goods were bartered for or paid using an agreed upon commodity such as copper or gold ingots, set quantities of salt or ivory, or even cowry shells (which came from Persia). In addition, Islamic studies were conducted in Arabic not native languages, and this further impeded its popularity outside the educated clerical class of towns and cities. By the 14th century the Dyula, or Wangara, as the Muslim traders of Mali came to be called, were active throughout western Africa. He was a Muslim and made a pilgrimage to Mecca, something that every ruler of Mali was required to do. Flooring was made using earth mixed with sand. The Mali Empire was a West African country from 1235 to 1645.The Mandinka people lived there. The Mali empire developed from the state of Kangaba, on the upper Niger River east of the Fouta Djallon, and is said to have been founded before 1000 ce. The Mali Empire collapsed in the 1460s CE following civil wars, the opening up of trade routes elsewhere, and the rise of the neighbouring Songhai Empire, but it did continue to control a small part of the western empire into the 17th century CE. Through Timbuktu there passed such lucrative goods as ivory, textiles, horses (important for military use), glassware, weapons, sugar, kola nuts (a mild stimulant), cereals (e.g. Although it is rare for artworks of this period to come with a certain provenance obtained from professionally excavated sites, the sculptures are so numerous that it seems likely many were used as everyday decorative objects as well as for ritual or burial purposes. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... An illustrated map from the 1300s showing MÅ«sā (lower right), emperor of Mali, seated on his throne. Now, his son is very poor. It has featured in films, video games, works of fiction, and its memory is still a profound force in the articulation of social and political identities across Mande West Africa. He famously went to Mecca and, impressed with what he saw on his travels, Mansa Musa brought back home Muslim architects, scholars, and books. At its peak under Askia Mohammad I, it encompassed the Hausa states as far as Kano (in present-day Nigeria) and much of the territory that had belonged to the Mali Empire in the west.It was destroyed by a Moroccan invasion in 1591. Mali lions are now only found around the Faleme River. These stories, passed down from generation to generation (and continuing today), were often accompanied by music. The area that is now Mali was once part of the three great precolonial Sudanic empires: Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. Additional guarantees of loyalty included taking royal hostages and keeping them at the capital. After a string of seemingly lacklustre rulers, the Mali Empire enjoyed its second golden era during the reign of Mansa Musa I in the first half of the 13th century CE. Manatees in the Niger River are no longer hunted for their meat due to their threatened status and protection laws. The name Sundiata gave to his empire, Africa’s largest up to that point, was Mali, meaning ‘the place where the king lives’. It is now surrounded by modern day African countries such as Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger, The Gambia, and Guinea. The Songhai Empire was a massive, multicultural West African state that spanned between the 15th and 16th centuries CE. Muslim merchants were attracted to all this commercial activity, and they converted Mali rulers who in turn spread Islam via such noted centres of learning as Timbuktu. "Mali Empire." The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa with an area of 1,240,192 sq. The Ghana Empire (6th to 13th century CE) was the first major political power in West Africa to create an empire based on military might and the wealth gained from regional trade. Omissions? Many native converts studied in such places as Fez, Morocco, and became great scholars, missionaries, and even saints, and so Islam came to be seen no longer as a foreign religion but a black African one. It begun under King Sundiata Keita in 1235 A.D who is the founder of the Empire, and peaking up under the king Mansa Musa who ruled the empire from 1312 A.D to 1337 A.D. It grew up along the Niger River and eventually spread across 1,200 miles from the city of Gao to the Atlantic Ocean. Through endless campaigns for expansion, Songhai became the largest of the three great empires of Western Africa –– and larger than all of continental Europe. The Empire was founded in 1235 CE by the legendary King Sundiata [ii] and lasted until the early 1600s CE [iii]. The Mali Empire collapsed when several states, including Songhai, proclaimed and defended their independence. Ancient History Encyclopedia. History. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. The Mali Empire (known also as the Manding Empire or Manden Kurufa) was a state that dominated West Africa between the 13th and 17th centuries. In Spain c. 1375 CE, a mapmaker was inspired to create Europe’s first detailed map of West Africa, part of the Catalan Atlas. The Mali Empire Founded by Sundiata Keita, the Mali Empire or the Manden Kurufa was a medieval West African kingdom which was located along the Niger River. Immense wealth was gained from acting as a trade hub between the interior and southern coast of West Africa and North â€¦ The Mali Empire was founded by Sundiata Keita , known also as the ‘hungering lion’. Kangaba was originally part of ancient Ghana. The military culture of the empire's driving force, the Mandinka people, influenced many later states in West Africa including break-away powers such as the Songhay and Jolof empires. 2. To govern these diverse peoples, Mansa Musa divided his empire into provinces with each one ruled by a governor (farba) appointed personally by him and responsible for local taxes, justice, and settling tribal disputes. Imperial armies secured the gold-bearing lands of Bondu and Bambuk to the south, subdued the Diara in the northwest, and pushed along the Niger as far north as Lac Débo. It covered regions of the modern day African countries of Mali, Niger, Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea, and The Gambia. It developed from the kingdom of Kangaba, which was established along the upper Niger River by the Malinke people possibly as early as 1000. 3. For such a prolific empire, it’s unfortunate that there are few written … Among the most respected castes were the farmers because of their ability to provide food. (The name Mali absorbed the name Kangaba at about this time.). The Mali Empire was strategically located between the West African gold mines and the agriculturally rich Niger River floodplain. The Malinke inhabitants of Kangaba acted as middlemen in the gold trade during the later period of ancient Ghana. The Mali trading empire of West Africa began its rise upon the collapse of the empire of Ghana. There are few written accounts. Last modified March 01, 2019. The largest Army was the Mongol Army in China. The fabled but now faded trading and learning centre of Timbuktu is situated in Mali on the upper Niger River. The Mali Empire thus came to include many different religious, ethnic, and linguistic groups. Cereals such as red-skinned African rice and millet were grown with success, as were pulses, tuber and root crops, oil and fibre plants, and fruits. Cartwright, Mark. This federation prospered, developing over the next century into one of Africa’s richest ever empires whose wealth would astound both Europe and Arabia. ), Mali rose to the apogee of its power. Malians commonly wear colorful boubous (flowing robes). Try our Mali Empire Quiz! It grew from a small kingdom called Kangaba on the Niger River to a vast area that included some of the most important trading regions of the time. During the Mali Empire, there were even songs reserved for certain people who alone had the right to have them sung in their honour, this was especially so for renowned warriors and hunters. The great empire known as Mali thrived in West Africa from the 1200s to the 1500s. The landscape transitions from Sahara Desert in … This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. The Mali Empire was part of the Ghana Empire (300 – 1200 AD). Songhai Empire and Timbuktu . This handcrafted cloth is dyed with mud. The founding of the Mali Empire dates to the 1200s, when a ruler named Sundiata Keita—sometimes called the “Lion King”—led a revolt against a Sosso king and united his subjects into a new state. Mali isn’t a safe place to travel for the time being, but it’s still home to very interesting places to see one day. Mali is the biggest country in West Africa. Trading and gold mining made Mali … Corrections? The Mali region has been the seat of extensive empires and kingdoms, notably those of Ghana (4th–11th cent. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Niani, now no longer in existence but probably located on a plain near the all-year-round navigable Sankarani River, was selected as the empire’s capital. Then, as trade routes opened up elsewhere, several rival kingdoms developed to the west, notably the Songhai. Arab chroniclers describe another type of domestic building, which was constructed using beaten earth bricks and with ceilings made of wooden beams and reeds, the whole formed into a conical roof. These problems of governance were yet to come, though, and Sundiata would continue to expand his territory to include the old kingdoms of Ghana, Walata, Tadmekka, and Songhai. In extending Mali’s rule beyond Kangaba’s narrow confines, Sundiata set a precedent for successive emperors. This prosperous confederation of Mande-speaking peoples reached its peak in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when it dominated nearly all of West Africa. He controlled the lands of the middle Niger, absorbed into his empire the trading cities of Timbuktu and Gao, and imposed his rule on such south Saharan cities as Walata and on the Taghaza region of salt deposits to the north. For webquest or practice, print a copy of this quiz at the Ancient Africa - Empire of Mali webquest print page. History of Ancient Mali Empire Beginning of eleventh century, Ancient Mali becomes the dominant force in the upper Niger basin. Its first king was the fierce warrior-prince Sundiata Keita (1235-1255). Mali is the biggest country in West Africa. Once one of the great centres of Islamic culture and wealth, Mali owes much of its reputation to its situation as a major trading centre and to the tax that is levied on its trans-Saharan route. Mali’s recorded history began with the Ghana Empire, which extended across the borders of present-day Mali and Mauritania during the 4th and 11th centuries. Back to History for Kids The Mali Empireball was described by Arab travelers as a rich and sumptuous state during its heyday and certainly was an important commercial center. This prosperous confederation of Mande-speaking peoples reached its peak in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when it dominated nearly all of West Africa. The people used camels, boats, horses, ships, and carriages to travel On a smaller scale, excavations at Niani have revealed the remains of houses and their stone foundations, confirming later sources that the richer members of society built stone houses. Not geographically connected to modern-day Ghana but located to the northwest, the empire was in serious decline by the end of the 12th century CE. Animals endemic to only Mali include the Mali Fire finch, the Mali Screeching Frog, the Bata Marsh Toad and the freshwater elephant fish. 13Th-Century and the early years of the 14th-century it had the second largest American state rose as a force... Its grip over a large portion of West Africa known precolonial African states under the! Its center in Gao during the 14th century, the Gambia, and Bure of mali empire facts books! Of Ghana ( 4th–11th cent after the death of Mansa Musa and brother! That had carried Mali to success, however, impelled it ineluctably decline! 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