The gold-salt trade was an exchange of salt for gold between Mediterranean economies and West African countries during the Middle Ages. West African kingdoms, such as the Soninke empire of Ghana and the empire of Mali that succeeded it, were rich in gold but lacked salt, a commodity that countries around the Mediterranean had in plenty. Salt was important for replacing fluids and preserving food in the tropical climate south of the Sahara.Continue Reading
The Soninke empire of Ghana, named the "Land of Gold" by Islamic scholars, is linked with the rise of the trans-Saharan gold trade that began around the fifth century. Countries in North Africa needed gold for coinage, and they got their supply from Berbers who traveled across the Sahara in camel caravans carrying blocks of desert salt. The trade lasted for centuries, and was partially responsible for the introduction of Islam to the Berbers, and consequently West Africa.
The Soninke maintained exclusive control over the gold trade by keeping the location of gold mines a secret. In the 11th century, the empire was strong enough to take over the Berber town of Audaghost, an important terminus along the trade route. However, a century later, new routes bypassed Audoghost and moved toward newer goldfields. The Soninke empire soon lost its domination of the gold trade.
The Mali empire that followed, and the Songhai empire that rose later, continued relying heavily on the gold-salt trade.Learn more about Middle Ages
The characteristics of the early Middle Ages include a creation of a common Christian perspective, the negative yet energizing interaction between Islam and Christianity, the Byzantium region as a demonstrative space of East and West conflict and a fewer material options when compared to the prior Roman era. The Middle Ages are a period that has not been fully defined by historians, but is generally considered to have occurred between 300 and 1000 A.D.Full Answer >
Members of the upper class in the Middle Ages knew very little about nutrition and would base meals on meats, fish, bread, spices and very little vegetables. They believed it was more important to achieve a beautiful food presentation, which meant they enjoyed expensive spices including saffron, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves.Full Answer >
During the Middle Ages, land travel took place by foot, by horse or by cart and carriage, while sea travel utilized either sailing ships or galleys. Some wealthy individuals may have utilized sedan chairs, also known as litters, which were carried by servants.Full Answer >
The Catholic Church's power in the Middle Ages was primarily derived from a combination of belief, money and illiteracy. That is, most people in that age strongly believed in God, heaven and hell, and the Catholic Church was the center of that belief.Full Answer >