Ancient Ghana

Introduction to Ghana

Between the 9th and 11th century, Ghana was the one of the wealthiest kingdoms in Africa. Many of the foreigners have named Ghana’s kings as the wealthiest in the world. Ghana was located on the borders of Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal. During medieval Ghana, it sat literally on a gold mine. With this gold, they traded products that they made or had from the resources of the land. Since Ghana was in the middle of the North and West trading routes, they transported goods between each other. Ghana grew very rich by the trans Sahara trade. By their wealth increasing, Ghana made all products coming and going have tolls. Also, if a merchant was trading gold he was required to give Ghana part of his gold. With all of Ghana prospering in gold and trading, it sparked a big business that lasted years.

This is an overview of trade products that were traded in West Africa. Ghana has many gold mines which gives them an abundance in gold.


The surroundings of ancient Ghana became a prime location. This was because they lived on a massive gold mine. This brought Ghana extreme wealth and allowed them to over power fellow countries due to how strong their economy was. Not to mention that there gold success was so strong that for a while Ghana went by the name of "Gold coast". Adding to that, they also gained power over the discovery and introduction of camels in the Trans-Sahara trade. It was very efficient, because it allowed them to import goods quicker. Since they were not on foot, they could load the camel with more goods rather than being able to hold a certain amount. Also, since Ghana was in between a rainforest and desert it wasn't an inconsistent place to live.

Religious Values

In ancient Ghana they practiced animism. This was the practice of a mixture of supernatural and spiritual powers. They believed that all animals and plants had spirits. Another practice was ancestor veneration, where they offered sacrifices to their ancestors. If they did not offer any sacrifices, Ghanaians believed that their ancestors would bring them bad luck. By the 8th century Islam was introduced to the Ghanaian society. This was led by Muslim merchants who arrived in Ghana for trading purposes. It is clear that early Islam in Ghana was linked to trade and commerce. Muslim kings built mosques for the people to worship Allah, the Islamic god. Many people of Ghana began to practice Islam for economic motivations, the lore of Arabic literacy, and Islam’s spiritual message. They had major trade routes that connected Ghana to the Middle East. In 1706 the Almoravids who conquered Ghana tried to convert everyone to the Islamic religion, but failed. Ghana kings “benefited from Muslim traders, but kept them outside centers of power”(Spice).


Art wasn't all the main focus in Ghana. Although they didn't do paintings like other countries, they had an excess amount of gold; which was their version of art materials. They tended to make a lot of jewelry only for the royalty and nobility. Adding to that, that's also how they got their main wealth. The Ghanaians happened to live on a major gold mine, which enabled them to mine the gold, make it into jewelry and sell it for money at the local trade market. This was very successful for their people and their economy. In addition, Ghana also produced wooden carvings, which served as a sacred role. The Ashanti people were generally the ones to make the woodcarvings due to them being the best and most artistic out of all the ethnic groups in Ghana. This corresponded with gold and brought in profit. It wasn't quite as big as gold, but it brought in some money, which the economy could not turn down.