The Gold Road


Young People

Baker, Charles. “Mansa Musa King of Mali“. Footsteps Magazine. Cobblestone. Print.

“The Bling King.” Junior Scholastic. September 17, 2018.

Bower, Bert. History Alive!: The Medieval World and Beyond. Palo Alto, Calif: Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, 2019. Print.

Chu, D. and Skinner, E. Glorious Age in Africa: The Story of Three Great African Empires. Africa World Press, 1965. Print.

Conrad, David C. Empires of Medieval West Africa: Ghana, Mali and Songhay, New York, NY: Facts on File, 2005. Print. Online
—-Empires of Medieval West Africa: Ghana, Mali and Songhay, 2nd edition. New York, NY: Chelsea House, 2010. Print.
—. Sunjata: A West African Epic of the Mande People. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2004. Print.

Conrad, David. Songhay Empire (African Civilization Series). New York: Watts, 1998. Print.

Diouf, Sylviane. Kings and Queens of West Africa. Danbury, CT: Franklin Watts, 2000. Print.

Fontes, Ron, Justine, and S. Sunjata, Warrior King of Mali. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2008. Print.

Hambleton, Vicki. “How we Know What We Know. Footsteps Magazine. Sep/Oct99, Vol. 1, Issue 4 Print

Hambleton, Vicki. “Mansa Musa The Golden King.” Footsteps Magazine. Sep/Oct99, Vol. 1, Issue 4 Print

Honest History. Issue Thirteen, Fall 2021

  • “From Here to Timbuktu
  • The Golden King, The Life of Mansa Musa
  • “Salt and Gold”

Kessler, Cristina. Trouble in Timbuktu (a novel). New York, NY: Philomel Books, 2009. Print.

Mann, Kenny. Ghana, Mali, Songhay: The Western Sudan. Parsippany, NJ: Simon and Schuster/Dillon, 1996. Print.

McCann, James C. “Bullion and Beauty, Africa in the Mediterranean Renaissance.” Footsteps. Sep/Oct99, Vol. 1, Issue 4 Print

“Mansa Musa (Musa I of Mali).” National Geographic. Accessed 5/13/2022. Print

McKissack, Patricia, and Fredrick McKissack. Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay: Life in Medieval Africa. New York: Holt, 1994. Print.

Meltzer, Milton. Ten Kings and the Worlds they Ruled. New York: Orchard Books / Scholastic, 2002. Print.

Pancella, Peggy. Mansa Musa: Ruler of Ancient Mali. Chicago, IL: Heinemann, 2003. Print.

Pouwels, R, et all. African and Middle Eastern World. Oxford, 2005. Print.

Skinner, Ryan T. Sidikiba’s Kora Lesson. Edina, Minnesota: Beaver Pond Press, 2008. Print.

Thompson, Carol. Empire of Mali (African Civilizations Series). New York: Franklin Watts, 1998. Print.

Wisniewski, David. Sundiata: Lion King of Mali. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin, 1992. Print.

Woods, Michael, and Mary B. Seven Wonders of Ancient Africa. Minneapolis: Twenty First Century Books, 2009. Print


Dower, Lenna. “Sundiata, An Epic of Old Mali Reading-Guide.” Boston University. bu/africa/outreach Accessed 3/10/22

“Ghana, Mali and Songhai: Enduring Understandings.” Boston University. bu/africa/outreach Accessed 3/10/22

Oak Teachers Hub. The National Academy. Reach Foundation. Accessed 3/10/22

Randolph, Brenda, Cristina Kessler and Veronika Jenke.  Trouble in Timbuktu: Let’s Preserve a Memory.” Africa Access Review. 2010, Updated 3/4/22.

Sites of Encounter in the Medieval World Lesson #4 Mali. History Blueprint. The Regents of the University of California, 2014.

“Teachers’ Guide. Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time. Block Museum of Art. Northwestern University Accessed 9/6/2022.

“Trekking to Timbuktu” EDSITEment. National Endowment for the Humanities.  Accessed 3/10/2022

  • The Geography of Mali
  • Timbuktu a Center of Trade
  • Mansa Musa Takes a Trip
  • Timbuktu Center Golden Age of Scholarship
  • The Search for Timbuktu
  • Restoring the Past



al-Sadi, Abd -R. A. A, O Houdas, and Edm Benoist. Tarikh Es Soudan. Paris, 1898. Print.

Austen, Ralph A. In search of Sunjata : the Mande oral epic as history, literature, and performance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. Print.
—. Trans-Saharan Africa in world history. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Print.

Belcher, Stephen. The Golden Secret of Kri Koro. Van Veltzer, 2022. Print

Bellagamba, Alice, Sandra E. Greene, and Martin A. Klein. African voices on slavery and the slave trade. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Print.
—. African voices on slavery and the slave trade /Vol 2 Essays on Sources and Methods. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Print.

Berzock, Kathleen B. Caravans of gold, fragments in time : art, culture, and exchange across medieval Saharan Africa. Evanston, IL: Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University. Print.

Charry, Eric S. Mande music: traditional and modern music of the Maninka. University of Chicago: Chicago, 2000. Print.

Condé, Maryse. The children of Segu. New York, N.Y.: Viking, 1989. Print.
—. Segu, a novel. New York: Viking, 1987. Print.

Fauvelle-Aymar, François-Xavier. The golden rhinoceros: histories of the African Middle Ages. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Print.

Frank, Barbara E. Mande potters & leatherworkers: art and heritage in West Africa. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998. Print.

Gomez, Michael A. African dominion: a new history of empire in early and medieval West Africa. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Print.

Gronenborn, Detlef. “Polities and Trade in Medieval Northern Nigeria. Caravans of gold, fragments in time : art, culture, and exchange across medieval Saharan Africa. Evanston, IL: Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University. Print.

Guérin, Sarah. “Gold, Ivory, and Copper.” Caravans of gold, fragments in time : art, culture, and exchange across medieval Saharan Africa. Evanston, IL: Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University. Print.

Hale, Thomas. Griots and griottes: masters of words and music. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1998. Print.

Hammer, Joshua. The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu: and their race to save the world’s most precious manuscripts. New York: Simon & Schuster. Print.

Hilu, Sam, and Irwin Hersey. Bogolanfini mud cloth. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub., 2005. Print.

Hopkins, J F.P., and Nehemia Levtzion. Corpus of early Arabic sources for West African history. Princeton, N.J.: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2000. Print.

Hunwick, John O., and Alida J. Boye. The hidden treasures of Timbuktu: historic city of Islamic Africa, with 193 colour illustrations. London: Thames & Hudson, 2008. Print.

Ibn Batuta, Said Hamdun, and Noel Q. King. Ibn Battuta in Black Africa. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, ©2004. Print.

Johnson, John W., Thomas A. Hale, and Stephen P. Belcher. Oral epics from Africa: vibrant voices from a vast continent. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997. Print.

Johnson, John W., and Fa-Digi Sisòkò. The epic of Son-Jara: a West African tradition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Print.

Johnson, John Williams et al. Son – Jara: The Mande Epic. Indiana University Press, 2003. Print.

Johnston, James H. From slave ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the history of an African American family. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012. Print.

Kane, Ousmane O. Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa. Harvard University Press, 2016. Print.

Kane, Ousmane. Islamic Scholarship in Africa: New Directions and Global Contexts. , James Currey 2021. Print.

Lagamma, Alisa e. Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara. New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2020. Print.

Levtzion, Nehemia and Jay Spaulding (ed. Medieval West Africa : views from Arab scholars and merchants. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, ©2003. Print.

McIntosh, Roderick J. The peoples of the Middle Niger: the island of gold. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1998. Print.

Messier, Ronald and Abdallah Fili. “Sijilmasa’s Role in the African Gold Trade.” Caravans of gold, fragments in time : art, culture, and exchange across medieval Saharan Africa. Evanston, IL: Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University. Print.

Ngom, Fallou. Muslims Beyond the Arab World: The Odyssey of Ajami and the Muridiyya. , 2016. Print.

Niane, D.T. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. Dearborn Trade, 1960. Print.

Nixon, Sam. “Essouk-Tadmekka, a Southern Saharan Center of Early Islamic Camel Caravan Trade.” Caravans of gold, fragments in time : art, culture, and exchange across medieval Saharan Africa. Evanston, IL: Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University. Print.

Roberts, Allen F., Mary Nooter Roberts, and Ousmane Gueye. A saint in the city: Sufi arts of urban Senegal. Los Angeles: University of California Los Angeles, Fowler, 2003. Print.

Said, Omar i. A Muslim American slave: the life of Omar Ibn Said. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press. Print.

Suso, Bamba, and Banna Kanute. Sunjata: Gambian versions of the Mande epic by Bamba Suso and Banna Kanute. London: Penguin Books. Print.

Timbuktī, Maḥmūd Kutī ibn Mutawakkil Kutī, ʿAbd a.A. Mayghā, and Hārūn a. Mayghā. Tārīkh al-fattāsh : fī akhbār al-buldān wa-al-juyūsh wa-akābir al-nās : wa-dhikr waqāʾiʿ al-takrūr, wa-ʿaẓāʾim al-umūr, wa-tafrīq ansāb al-ʿabīd min a. Bamako: Institut des Hautes Etudes et de Recherches Islamiques Ahmed Baba de Tombouctou (IHERI ABT). Print.

Wise, Christopher.  Tarikh Al Fattash =: The Timbuktu Chronicles, 1493-1599 : English Translation of the Original Works in Arabic by Al Hajj Mahmud Kati. Trenton, N.J: Africa World Press, 2011. Print.

Online Resources


The Geography of West Africa: Geo Spatial Inquiries through a Historical Lens. Boston University, African Studies Center.


Refining gold with glass – an early Islamic technology at Tadmekka, MaliJournal of Archaeological ScienceVolume 49, September 2014, Pages 33-41 (Accessed 7/16/2020).

Jenne-Jenno: An Ancient African City. McIntosh & McIntosh. (Accessed 7/30/20)

Reconceptualizing Early Ghana by S. K. McIntosh Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne des Études Africaines, Vol. 42, No. ⅔.

Why study African cities? A video recorded lecture for teachers by Dr. Rod McIntosh (2016)


Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time. Block Museum of Art. Northwestern University Accessed 9/6/2022.

“Kano Durbar Horsefestival. ” Tour Nigeria. Accessed 4/16/2022.

“Festival in the Desert.” Accessed 4/16/2022.

Podcast: Medieval Africa at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto: a 22 minute podcast on the Caravans of Gold exhibit of the Block Museum, currently in Toronto.

Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accessed 5/25/2020.

Zamani Project, gallery of interactive 3D heritage sites throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It includes the Jenne mosque, and the Timbuktu Djenguereber mosque

The Met Museums’ Heilbrunn interactive Timeline of Art History chronology: a useful interactive source that showcases some artifacts in the Saharan trade.

Trans Saharan Gold Trade, 7th to 14th century (Met Museum)

History and Literature

Ancient History Encyclopedia  (includes several articles on Medieval Sudanic states)

Boston University, African Studies Center. Accessed 5/25/2020

Cox, Elizabeth. The hidden treasures of Timbuktu. TEDed. Accessed 3/3/2022.

The Epic of Sundiata:Using African Literature in the Classroom.

Faces Magazine. Journey to Mali. March 2020. (Online annual subscription to Faces $9.99; Free access via many public libraries)

  • Mali: An Ancient Empire. Christine Graf
  • White Gold: The Sahara Salt Trade. Jane Schere
  • The Great Mosque of Djenne. Gail Skroback Hennessey
  • The Brave Librarians of Timbuktu. Barbara Tuttle
  • Mali’s Music: A Universal Language. Marcia Amidon Lusted.
  • The Richest Man Who Ever Lived. Marcia Amidon Lusted
  • Mali-inspired Terracotta Sculptures. Brenda Breuls

Google Arts and Culture. The Timbuktu Manuscript Project. Accessed 3/17/2022

History of Africa. Exploring Africa. Michigan State University. Accessed 7/29/2020.

Insoll Timothy. “Trade & Empire: The Road to Timbuktu.”   Archaeology. Vol 53 Number 6, November/December, 2000.  Archaeological Institute of America. 

Mansa Musa. Stanford History Education Group. Accessed 7/29/2020.

Leo Africanus: Description of Timbuktu from The Description of Africa (1526). Washington State University.

Medieval Sourcebook: Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354. Fordham University.
Accessed 5/25/2020.

Smith, Jessica. “Mansa Musa, one of the wealthiest people who ever lived.” TEDed. Accessed 3/3/2022.

Song as oral tradition in West Africa by Janet Topp Fargion. The British Library. Accessed 5/25/2020.

South African History Online. Accessed 5/25/2020.

Toungara, Jeanne. “Myths, Legends, and Lyrics as Pathways to Understanding the African Past, Endogenous  Knowledge and Personhood.”  African Voices on Slavery and the Slave Trade. Cambridge, 2013.

UC Berkeley. Accessed 5/25/2020.


Desert Empires: History of Africa with Zeinab Badawi [Episode 10] BBC Series
Focuses on Soninke cultures, the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai.

Africa’s Great Civilizations: Episode 3: Empires of Gold
Part of the 6-part series of African Great Civilizations, produced and narrated by H.L. Gates. PBS video, accessible with membership, currently also available on Daily Motion.

Sun of the Soil: The Story of Mansa Musa (2020): Abdou Ouologuem on Sahelien. A documentary that traces the story of Mansa Musa while probing the links to the life of the artist Abdou Ouologuem.

Timbuktu: the Untold Story
Original footage of Timbuktu presented along a historical timeline, including: Ancient Manuscripts dating back to the 9th Century, both from public and family collections; Historic buildings of the University System of Timbuktu: Sankore, Sidi Yahya, & Djingeber; Interviews with scholars of Timbuktu and professors in the United States on the significance of the Timbuktu Manuscripts.

The Manuscripts of Timbuktu
Featuring commentary by African scholars, reenactments, and an original musical score by Vieux Farka Touré, this documentary critiques this limited view by demonstrating that Timbuktu was once home to an advanced civilization. It was a leading cultural, economic, scientific and religious center that made a significant and lasting impact on Africa and the world before European intervention. This film establishes the importance of preserving thousands of ancient manuscripts as an empowering legacy for African scholarship today.

The Manuscripts of Timbuktu and Islamic Writing in West Africa: a lecture by Prof. Charles Stewart.

The Ink Road: Teaching Methods of Timbuktu
Presented by the Timbuktu Educational Foundation, this documentary tells the spectacular story of the teaching methodology utilized by the scholars of the University of Timbuktu from the making of the ink to the development of many branches of knowledge. TEF uses historical footage, re-enactments, and a remarkable exposition of art, architecture, and interviews with African scholars to recount the rise and the importance of the University of Timbuktu and its teaching methodology.

The Lost Libraries of Timbuktu, BBC documentary, 1 hour.



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Created by Brenda Randolph and Elsa Wiehe

Updated 1/28/2022