General Introduction

Ghana was one of the many kingdoms of West Africa.  Ghana's history centered around trade and their numerous natural resources which included gold, and overtime, salt.  Ghana developed in 500 C.E. and collapsed some time in the 1200's.  Just like the rest of Africa at this time, the people of Ghana mostly focused on oral traditions, and kinship ties.  Ghana got its power from the trade of Gold and the introduction of the camel for trade.  They were known for their gold, and their numerous natural resources.

The Capital of Ghana was Kumbi Saleh.  It was made up of two separate walled towns.  The influence of Islam in these towns brought new language, a system of writing, and many new trade partners to the region.

Over time, Ghana declined until its ultimate downfall.  The King lost his ties with his trade partners, and therefore lost natural resources that they needed.  Furthermore, drought and the climate change were having a long term affect on the land making it hard to farm, and sustain the cattle. The people of North Africa came over to Ghana to mine for gold, and eventually colonized and Ghana was.  

Quote from Geographer Al-Bakri

"The city of Ghana consists of two towns situated on a plain. One of these towns, which is inhabited by Muslims, is large and possesses twelve mosques in one of which they assemble for the Friday prayer. There are salaried imams and muezzins, as well as jurists and scholars. The king's town is six miles distant from this oneā€¦

The king has a palace and a number of domed dwellings all surrounded with an enclosure like a city wall. Around the king's town are domed buildings and groves and thickets where the sorcerers of these people, men in charge of the religious cult, live. In them too are their idols and the tombs of their kings."

Taken from an account by geographer Al-Bakri.


Most of the major cities in Ghana surrounded the capital.  The capital city was Kumbi Saleh.  The cities were scattered around the center of Ghana.  Some of the cities that were around the capital were Djenne Jeno and Gao.  Since the Kingdom of Ancient Ghana was so close to the coastline, trade by the water was very important to them.  The trade route that they used was parallel to the coast starting from North America.  Since their land was full of Savannas  grasslands, they were expert farmers.  They were plentiful in gold, and that helped in trade because the traders bought good like salt that they needed.  The traders also bought religions like Islam over to Africa


The Ghana used stories and fables to describe events and phenomena they didn't understand such as the story of Bida, the black serpent who they attributed most of their success too. The story that was used to explain Ghanas decline says how Bida required an annual human sacrifice in order for ghanas continual wealth, one year the sacrifice's fiance rescued her and Bida cursed the civilization with a drought and their mines dried up

Slowly Joining Islam

The traders from other nations brought islam with them as well as their goods. An islamic community was set up but in the beginning the king held onto his old beliefs and so the islamic people were far away from the kings city. The king slowly grew more accepting of muslims and while he still hung on to his traditional faith he allowed the muslim people to help run the administration of his kingdom because they had excellent literary and book keeping skills.


The ancient Ghana empire used music as a multipurpose tool be it celebration or mourning or even religion music was a main part of any big event. Ghana people used a combination of drums, chanting, and dance to make up their complicated rituals be it the funeral of a king a send off to war or merely a celebration of life the music of Ghana was a large cultural piece.

Artwork and Architecture

Ghana had a lot of physical art pieces to show power wealth and social standing these included gold jewelry and weaving these art pieces are usually in the higher royal courts of Ghana. Gold, mined for centuries in Ghana, is worked into opulent jewelry that only adorned the Akan king and nobility. The fabric Ghana is most well known for is Kente cloth. It is made by weavers belonging to the Ashanti court by using European silk acquired through trans-Saharan trading routes and later coastal trade. There are two Ghanaian architectural types. In the north round huts with grass roofing are found . In the south, several buildings connect around a communal compound in the middle of an enclosure.


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