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Medieval West Africa – Bronze, glass, and drought

By |2018-11-01T08:53:13+00:00October 2nd, 2017|Africa, History|

Copper sculpture from Medieval West Africa (Tada, Nigeria ca. 1300 AD). Djenne-Djeno's walls By 800 AD, the people of Djenne-Djeno had built a tall wall of mud-bricks around their town. The wall would protect them from their enemies. (But as we will see, in the end this didn't work!) The people of Djenne-Djeno were rich. Many of [...]

Commune and Third Republic – France

By |2017-08-05T09:26:50+00:00August 5th, 2017|History, Modern Europe|

Napoleon III By the 1860s, France was nervously watching as the German states and Prussia combined into one country under Bismarck's control. In 1866, Napoleon III, the ruler of France, declared war on Germany, thinking to limit Germany's power. But instead, this was just the excuse Bismarck had been looking for. Prussia invaded France and totally [...]

African Economy Learning Activity

By |2018-04-09T10:31:08+00:00May 22nd, 2017|Africa, Crafts, Economy|

African salt caravan To have a chance to think about what these economic trades would have meant to African people, imagine you are one of these people (if you're in a class, a group of kids can be each person). Think about what you might buy from the other people, and what you [...]

How Anansi taught people to farm

By |2018-04-12T09:22:11+00:00May 19th, 2017|Africa, Literature|

Anansi learns to farm: Women hoeing fields (Uganda) An African story This is a story people in Africa tell about how Anansi the spider taught people how to farm. In the beginning, according to the story, people didn't know how to farm. They had to get their food from the wild, hunting it [...]

Ibn Battuta in China

By |2018-04-11T23:56:06+00:00May 19th, 2017|Africa, History, Literature|

Ibn Battuta on his travels Continuing travels of Ibn Battuta Ibn Battuta had already traveled much more than most people did! But even after visiting East Africa he didn't go home to Morocco. Ibn Battuta rested for a few months in Mecca, and then he heard that the Sultan of India had good jobs for [...]

Epic of Sundiata – African literature

By |2018-04-11T23:49:33+00:00May 19th, 2017|Africa, History, Literature|

Mosque at Djenne, Mali, built about 1200 AD (around the time of the Epic of Sundiata) Was Sundiata a real person? Nobody knows exactly how long the storytellers of West Africa have been telling stories about Sundiata, the prince of Mali. We can be pretty sure that Sundiata was a real person, and [...]

Salt Caravans

By |2018-04-10T00:13:55+00:00May 19th, 2017|Africa, China, Food|

A salt caravan across the Sahara Desert Mining salt in antiquity The salt trade, already important in the Bronze Age, grew more and more important over time. By 252 BC, a Chinese governor named Li Bing also figured out how to mine salt. People dug deep pits down to where there were natural [...]

Medieval African Architecture – Mosques and Churches

By |2018-04-21T12:09:38+00:00May 18th, 2017|Africa, Architecture, History, Medieval|

Medieval African architecture: Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo (Egypt, 900s AD) Africa gets richer The Middle Ages saw a tremendous explosion of architecture all over Africa as Africans became richer than they had ever been before. In Egypt, the Fatimids built mosques and forts, and the new city of Fustat (Cairo). More trade with India made the people [...]

West African History – Early West Africa – the Nok, the Bantu, and Djenne

By |2018-04-09T10:31:49+00:00May 18th, 2017|Africa, History|

West African history - Niger River, West Africa People have been living in West Africa for tens of thousands of years. There are several good-sized rivers - the Niger, the Senegal, and the Volta - that run through West Africa, which make it easier to travel because you can use boats. There are [...]