Koumbi Saleh

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Koumbi Saleh

 

the site of an ancient city in West Africa, north of the city of Nioro. It is located in the extreme south of Mauritania. In 1913 the ruins of the capital of the medieval state of Ghana (fourth century to the early 13th century) were discovered at Koumbi Saleh. The capital was an important trading center in the Western Sudan and the focus of trade with the nomads. Salt mined in the Sahara was exported from Koumbi Saleh to the savanna and tropical forest zone, and merchants from the North African countries purchased metals (particularly gold) and slaves in the city. Excavations conducted in 1949–50 revealed city buildings, burials (including numerous Muslim ones), iron implements, pottery, and beads (the last dating from the 11th century).

REFERENCES

Ol’derogge, D. Zapadnyi Sudan vXV-XIXvv. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Mauny, R. Tableau géographique de I’Ouest africain au Moyen Age: D’après les sources écrites la tradition et l’archéologie. Dakar, 1961.
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In the region occupied by the medieval kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, there were large towns such as Kumbi Saleh and Timbokto, and there was indeed a trade in gold, salt, and unfree labor, but the economic dynamics of the African continent was so heavily based on subsistence agriculture (no cash crops here for external markets) that the idea of economies founded on slavery is an exaggeration.