Students analyze the geographic, political, religious, social, and economic structures of the sub-Saharan civilizations of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai of West Africa in the Middle Ages.
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Locate and identify the site of these civilizations, the importance of the Niger River, and the relationship between vegetation zones of forest, savannah, and desert to the trade in gold, salt, food, and slaves. Illustrate the growth of the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai kingdoms/empires (e.g., trading centers such as Timbuktu and Jenne, which would later develop into important centers of culture and learning).
Describe the role of the trans-Saharan caravan trade in the changing religious and cultural characteristics of West Africa and the influence of Islamic beliefs, ethics, and law.
Trace the growth of the Arabic language in government, trade, and Islamic scholarship in West Africa.
Describe the importance of written and oral traditions in the transmission of African history and culture.
Trace the rise to prominence of Sundiata Keita, the legendary founder of the empire of Mali.