African Studies Trans-Saharan Trade
by
Ghislaine Lydon
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0009

Introduction

Since E. W. Bovill’s captivating Caravans of the Old Sahara (Bovill 1933, cited under General Overviews), and its significantly revised sequel, The Golden Trade of the Moors (Bovill 1995, cited under General Overviews), the history of Africa’s trans-Saharan trade has garnered great interest on the part of scholars of various disciplines. Still, remarkably few have assessed the significance of this long-distance trade system to the cultural, political, religious, and, especially, economic history of the peoples across the northern half of the African continent, let alone its place in world history. Consequently, the networks, logistics, and routes of transcontinental exchange within and across the Sahara Desert remain poorly understood. It is important to recognize the variety in size, direction, and purpose of caravan traffic. Across the ages, caravans hitched up at certain known crossroads to traverse designated legs and reformed at other crossroads. Typically, several caravans joined forces to complete an annual “trans-Saharan” crossing, and caravan circulation within Saharan regions was more frequent. In the past decades, research centers from Morocco to Libya have organized conferences on the subject of caravan trade, resulting in several publications. As the scholarly chasm between North Africa and the rest of the continent—the product of geopolitical mappings and the neglect of Saharan studies—is progressively redressed, our knowledge of trans-Saharan and Saharan exchange through the ages stands to significantly transform the contours of African history as a whole. By no means purporting to be comprehensive, the following bibliographical essay seeks to provide a broad survey of the literature on Saharan trade published in and out of Africa. It is limited primarily to scholarship about long-distance trade connecting markets across and within the central and western regions of the Sahara Desert.

General Overviews

This section lists publications that provide broad historical and cultural contexts for understanding trans-Saharan trade. Delafosse 1924, which traces the historical links between Morocco and Mali, is a reminder that some researchers paid no head to the scholarly divide between North Africa and so-called sub-Saharan Africa that presented the Sahara as a barrier to intracontinental exchange; a divide that later would be reinforced by the area-studies paradigm. Despite some of its dated conclusions, Bovill 1995 has stood the test of time and remains a key resource for historians of Africa. Godinho 1956 was one of the first to consider the links between Saharan and Mediterranean commercial systems. A special issue on caravan routes (Ṭarīq al-qawāfil) published in Algiers includes Arabic and French articles of varying depth, while a more recent edited volume, Ahmida 2009, contains work drawing on empirical research. Lydon 2009 sheds light on the inner workings of caravan trade, including women’s participation. As is the case with most scholarship on long-distance trade systems in world history, the involvement of women in the caravanning economy remains largely overlooked. Finally, Nājīh 2009 provides a multifaceted study of the hero of Saharan caravan trade, the camel.

  • Ahmida, Ali Abdullatif, ed. Bridges across the Sahara: Social, Economic and Cultural Impact of the Trans-Saharan Trade during the 19th and 20th Centuries. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2009.

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    This is a collection of articles, some of which were presented at a conference on caravan trade organized by the Libyan Studies Center in 2006. It includes research on topics ranging from the organization of caravan trade, patterns of trans-Saharan migration, and contraband activities, to the trans-Saharan trade in camels for butcher.

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    • Bovill, Edward William. Caravans of the Old Sahara: An Introduction to the History of the Western Sudan. London: Oxford University Press, 1933.

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      Written by a gentleman-scholar whose passion for African history was sparked after he served in the West African Frontier Forces in Kano, Nigeria. Bovill surveyed all the known information on the links between western Africa and northern markets.

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      • Bovill, Edward William. The Golden Trade of the Moors: West African Kingdoms in the Fourteenth Century. Princeton, NJ: Markus Weiner, 1995.

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        In his much-revised version of Caravans, Bovill expanded his discussion of the 14th century, considered the heyday of trans-Saharan commercial exchange. He also considers when the era of the great caravans drew to an end in the late 19th century. Originally published in 1958, it remains a landmark study in African history.

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        • Delafosse, Maurice. “Les relations du Maroc avec le Soudan à travers les âges.” Hésperis-Tamuda 4 (1924): 153–179.

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          Written by French colonial ethnographer, this is an original attempt to trace the history of Morocco’s interactions with western African states.

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          • Godinho, Vitorino M. O. “Mediterrâneo saariano” e as caravanas do ouro: Geografia económica e social do Sáara Ocidental e Central do XI ao XVI século. São Paulo, Brazil: Coleção da Revista de História, 1956.

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            Crafted by an Annales-trained historian, this is an important study of the “caravans of gold” from the 11th to the 16th century based on multilingual sources, including in Portuguese and Arabic.

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            • Lydon, Ghislaine. On Trans-Saharan Trails: Islamic Law, Trade Networks and Cross-Cultural Exchange in Western Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511575457Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Focused on the 19th century, this study includes a chapter reviewing the history of trans-Saharan trade in the longue durée. It is the first study to trace changes in the logistics of caravanning based on trade records and the writings of Muslim legal scholars. It also documents the involvement of women.

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              • Nājīh, ʿUmar. “Al-ibil fī al-taʾrī kh al-ʿām li-mujtāmaʾ gharb al-Ṣaḥrāʾ.” In Abḥāth wa-dirāsāt ḥawl al-Ṣaḥrāʾ/Majmūʿat al-Baḥth wa-al-Dirāsāt Ḥawl Sāḥil al-Ṣaḥrāʾ. Edited by Muḥammad Shrāyimī. Rabat, Morocco: Top Press, 2009.

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                A useful examination of the place of the camel in the social, cultural, political, and economic history of the western Sahara. It is informed by sources spanning several centuries and includes a discussion of fatwas or legal opinions concerning transactions in camels.

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                • Ould Cheikh, Abdel Wedoud. “La caravane et la caravelle: Les deux âges du commerce de l’Ouest saharien.” L’Ouest Saharien/The Western Sahara 2 (2000): 29–70.

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                  An excellent overview of the evolution of trans-Saharan trade along western axes, that identifies two broad periods: “the age of salt” and, starting in the 17th century with European coastal demand, “the age gomme arabic.”

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                  • Ṭarīq al-qawāfil. Algiers, Algeria: Al-Markaz al-Waṭanī lil-Buḥūth fī ʿUṣūr mā Qabl al-Taʾrīkh wa ʿIlm al-Insān wa-l-Taʾrīkh, 2001.

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                    A collection of longer and shorter essays on various topics concerning caravan trade in northwestern Africa. It includes a notable article by Wuld Saʿad (Wuld Saʿad 2001, cited under Islam and Scholarly Networks).

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                    Resources

                    In recent years, the interest in trans-Saharan trade has increased, and this trend stands to grow given recent events in Saharan history. The Saharan Studies Association, founded in 1992, acts as an information node for a rising number of specialists. At the same time, awareness of the rich archives generated by African Muslims and preserved in libraries from the former centers of caravan trade from Timbuktu to Tuwat has grown. Resources have been pooled to preserve and digitize Arabic-language sources hitherto largely unclassified and mined only by a handful historians. Many library collections in Mauritania and Mali now have published catalogues, and digitization projects are underway throughout the continent. Recent events have stalled Mali’s progress, placing its manuscript collections in jeopardy. The following is a list of relevant online resources and research centers of interest to scholars of Africa’s transcontinental trade. The Bibliothèque numérique de la Mauritanie is an online digital library of primarily French colonial sources, and an excellent resource along with Hamody 1995. Several research institutes promote Saharan research including the Centre for Trans-Saharan Studies (Nigeria), Institut des Études Africaines (Morocco), Centre National de Recherches Préhistoriques, Anthropologiques et Historiques (Algeria), and Libyan Centre for Archives and Historical Studies (Libya).

                    Journals

                    An increasing number of peer-reviewed academic journals in various languages publish innovative transregional research on African history. Several journals have a special interest in the history of trans-Saharan trade, such as the Libyan historical journal (Majallat al-Buḥūth al-Taʾrīkhiya, cited under Arabic- and French-Language Journals). More recently, the Journal of North African Studies (cited under English-Language Journals) has widened its scope to consider scholarship on the Sahara, and a new journal has emerged specialized in Saharan studies (L’Ouest Saharien/The Western Sahara, cited under Arabic- and French-Language Journals).

                    English-Language Journals

                    The Journal of African History has long published articles on Saharan trade, as has to a lesser extent the International Journal of African Historical Studies and History in Africa, a journal of methods and sources. Sudanic Africa, a journal focused on Muslim Africa, recently was renamed Islamic Africa and is housed in Northwestern University’s Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa. Other relevant journals include African Economic History, where research on caravan trade is published. In recent years, the Journal of North African Studies has begun publishing articles dealing with Saharan connectivity, and the new Journal of West African History stands to become an important venue for such studies.

                    Arabic- and French-Language Journals

                    The following is a sampling of some important journal publications in Arabic and in French. The Bulletin de Liaison Saharienne was established in 1926 by French colonial officers desirous to share their knowledge of Saharan affairs. The Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée has long published articles of relevance to Saharan history. The Cahiers d’Études Africaines is the premiere African studies journal in France. A new specialized journal, L’Ouest Saharien/The Western Sahara, seeks to promote a transregional understanding of Africa. The Libyan historical journal, Majallat al-Buḥūth al-Taʾrīkhiya, publishes studies of Saharan caravan trade. In Morocco, the Majallat Taʾrīkh al-Maghrib publishes broadly on the history of the Maghrib, and the more recently created interdisciplinary journal Al-Maghrib al-Ifrīqī encourages a transregional perspective of northern Africa. The Mauritanian journal Maṣādir: Kurrāsāt al-Taʾrīkhiya al-Mūritaniya also publishes relevant works. The recently founded journal Afriques features precolonial Saharan research.

                    • Afriques: débats, méthodes et terrains d’histoire. 2010–.

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                      This journal embraces a transcontinental perspective of African histoire before the 19th century, including scholarship on Saharan societies.

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                      • Bulletin de Liaison Saharienne. 1926–1962.

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                        Published by the Comité du Bulletin de Liaison Saharienne in Algiers with articles in French and Arabic, this French colonial journal regularly featured research on Saharan economic exchanges.

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                        • Cahiers d’Études Africaines. 1960–.

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                          An interdisciplinary journal that features cutting-edge research on African and its diasporas, including the Saharan, housed at the African Studies Center of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

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                          • L’Ouest Saharien/The Western Sahara. 1998–.

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                            This journal dedicated to western Saharan studies is published by L’Harmattan (Paris) with an editorial board headed by Pierre Boilley (University Paris–Sorbonne and Centre d’Études des Mondes Africains). It publishes annually issues on select topics, workshop proceedings, and monographs.

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                            • Al-Maghrib al-Ifrīqī. 2000–.

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                              The African Maghrib is a biannual review dedicated to multidisciplinary studies about northwestern Africa. It is published by Morocco’s Institut des Études Africaines.

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                              • Majallat al-Buḥūth al-Taʾrīkhiya. 1978–.

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                                This is the premier Libyan journal of historical research issued by the Libyan Centre for Archives and Historical Studies. In 1981, it published the proceedings of a workshop in a special issue entitled “trans-Saharan caravan trade” (Tijāra al-qawāfil ʿabra al-Ṣaḥrāʼ). All the papers appear in Arabic, including original articles by Marion Johnson, Terence Walz, and Paulo F. de Moraes Farias.

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                                • Majallat Taʾrīkh al-Maghrib. 1982–.

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                                  Published by the Université Mohamed V, Rabat, and printed by the Imprimerie an-Najah al-Jadida in Casablanca, this journal includes short articles and primary sources pertaining to the history of Morocco and the region of the Maghrib.

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                                  • Maṣadir: Kurrāsāt al-Taʾrīkhiya al-Mūritaniya. 1994–.

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                                    This journal, entitled Primary Sources: Mauritanian Historical Notebooks, publishes regularly, including special conference issues pertaining to the western Saharan.

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                                    • Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée. 1966–.

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                                      Now published out of the Université de Provence, this important journal specializes in the Muslim world, with an original focus on the Maghrib and Andalusia.

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                                      Primary Sources

                                      To reconstruct the history of trans-Saharan commerce, scholars have an uneven array of sources at their disposal. Illustrations of camels and horse-drawn chariots in Saharan rock paintings represent the earliest graphic sources. From the 9th century onward, the writings of Muslim geographers, scholars, pilgrims, and travelers provide more or less detailed information about caravans and trade routes. The well-known 17th-century chronicles of Timbuktu offer remarkably little by way of information about commercial activity or the movement of caravans. Indeed, they include only occasional mentions of the rise and fall of markets; prices in cowries, gold, salt, and slaves; or rulers’ taxation of salt and gold merchants.

                                      Notable Archival Collections

                                      Levtzion and Hopkins 2000, a collection of translated excerpts of Arabic writings pertaining to northwestern African history, is an invaluable resource. Other published archives include the monumental compendia of northwest African fatwas (al-Wansharīsī 1981–1983 and Wuld al-Baraʾ 2009–2010) and the two-volume compilation of trade records from Libya’s Ghadames (Yushaʾ 1982, Yushaʾ 1995). Only a handful of European sources document Africa’s interior trade before the age of African exploration starting in the late 18th century. In the following century, the race to Timbuktu, the French conquest of Algeria, and European territorial contests led to a surge in documentation on Saharan routes, realms, and markets.

                                      • Levtzion, Nehemia, and John F. P. Hopkins. Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2000.

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                                        A collection of Arabic sources written by Muslim geographers, travelers, and scholars from the 9th century onward coinciding with the expansion of trans-Saharan trade. These sixty-five translated excerpts spanning eight centuries are especially rich in commercial information on Saharan and Sahelian markets. Originally published in 1981.

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                                        • al-Wansharīsī, Aḥmad b. Yaḥya. Kitāb al-Miʿyār al-muʿrib wa-l-jāmiʾ al-mughrib ʿan fatāwā ahl Ifrīqīya wa-l-Andālūs wa-l-Maghrib. 12 vols. Rabat, Morocco: Ministry of Awqāf, 1981–1983.

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                                          Painstakingly compiled by this Moroccan legal scholar (b. 1430–d. 1508), this is a collection of approximately six thousand fatwas issued by several hundred Muslim legal scholars from North and West Africa and Muslim Spain spanning the period from the 9th to the 15th century. It includes fatwas pertaining to trade between the Maghrib and the Bilād al-Sūdān.

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                                          • Wuld al-Baraʾ, Yaḥya. Al-Majmuʿat al-Kubra al-Shāmila li-fatāwā wa nawāzil wa Aḥkām Ahl Gharb wa Janūb Gharb al-Ṣaḥrāʼ. 12 vols. Nouakchott, Mauritania: Al-Sharīf Mawlay Ḥasan, 2009–2010.

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                                            A collection of 6,800 fatwas written by 628 muftis from the regions of northwestern Africa, namely, the countries of Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Morocco, Algeria, and Guinea. It spans the period from the 15th to the 20th century and brings al-Wansharīsī’s collection forward to cover the next five centuries of legal literature.

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                                            • Yushaʾ, Bashīr Qāsim b. Ghadāmis: Wathāʾiq Tijāriya wa Taʾrīkhiya wa Ijtimāʿiya (1228–1312). Tripoli, Libya: Markaz Jihād al-Lībīyīn, 1982.

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                                              A unique collection of commercial records, including correspondence and contracts, generated by 19th-century merchants and their agents operating out of the Libyan caravan terminus of Ghadames.

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                                              • Yushaʾ, Bashīr Qāsim b. Wathāʾiq Ghadāmis: Wathāʾiq Tijāriya wa Taʾrīkhiya wa Ijtimāʿiya (949–1343). Vol. 2. Tripoli, Libya: Markaz Jihād al-Lībīyīn, 1995.

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                                                A sequel to Yushaʾ 1982 that includes records dating from the 1500s to the 1920s.

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                                                Accounts by Pilgrims and Other Africans

                                                An informative narrative genre documenting Saharan caravan crossings is the pilgrimage travelogue (riḥla). Known and lesser-known accounts are now published, and more will become available with future publications of original manuscripts. Before the 19th century, however, sources remain rather limited. Other sources in this section are accounts of Saharan caravan crossings.

                                                Pre-19th-Century Sources

                                                Prior to the 19th century, few records inform about caravans and Saharan crossroads. The 11th-century writings of al-Bakrī 1857, the only non-African author included in this section, mark the beginning of detailed information about trans-Saharan trade routes and markets. Two centuries later, the intrepid traveler Ibn Baṭūṭa provided a firsthand account of his caravan travels from Morocco to the Mali Empire (Ibn Baṭūṭa 1983). Two 17th-century accounts (Ibn Muḥammad al-ʿAyyāshī 2011, Mezzine 1996) detail the perils of caravan travel.

                                                • al-Bakrī, Abū ʿUbayd ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz. Kitāb al-Mughrib fī Dhikr Bilād Ifrīqiya wa-l-Maghrib. Edited by Baron MacGuckin de Slane. Algiers, Algeria: Imprimerie du Gouvernement, 1857.

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                                                  Written by an Andalusian scholar in 1068, this is the earliest description of the routes and realms of the northwestern African interior, derived from oral interviews in Spain with merchants and travelers. This book represents one chapter from al-Bakrī’s larger Book of Routes and Realms (Kitāb al- masālik wa-l-mamālik).

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                                                  • Ibn Baṭūṭa, Muḥammad. Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325–1354. Translated and selected by H. A. R. Gibb. London: Darf, 1983.

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                                                    The last leg of this Muslim globetrotter’s journey took him to the Empire of Mali (1351–1354). It represents the first written eyewitness account of western Africa. Ibn Baṭūṭa offers unique insights into the organization of caravans and commerce at the time.

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                                                    • Ibn Muḥammad al-ʿAyyāshī, Abū Sālim ʿAbd Allāh. Al-Riḥla al-ʻAyyāshīya li-l-Biqāʻ al-Ḥijāzīya, al-Musammaʾ Māʼ al-Mawāʼid. Edited by Aḥmad Farīd al-Mazīdī. Beirut, Lebanon: Dār al-Kutub al-ʻIlmīya, 2011.

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                                                      This is the 17th-century pilgrimage travelogue by a Muslim from Tafilalt (southeastern Morocco). The first volume is of particular interest to historians of Africa and the Sahara due to its rich descriptions of the dangers of caravanning and markets traversed from Sijilmasa to Tuwat and Gurara and over to Warqla.

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                                                      • Mezzine, Larbi. “Relation d’un voyage de Taġāzā à Sijilmāsa en 1096H./ 1685J.C.” Arabica 43.1 (1996): 211–233.

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                                                        A short description by a Muslim traveling between the salt mine of Teghaza (Mali), which was a regional caravan meeting point, and Sijilmasa (Morocco). It contains information about the daily tribulations of travelers, including a woman, aboard the caravan. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                        19th-Century Accounts

                                                        The 19th century marks a turning point in the availability of sources, including pilgrims’ accounts. The riḥlas of Al-Walātī 1990 and Ibn al-Ṭuwayr al-Janna 1995 describe caravan travel and commercial exchange. Panet 1968 and Bou El-Mogdad 1861 document their crossings from Senegal to Morocco, and the Maghribi rabbi Aby Serour 1870 provides details of his commercial tribulations and travels to and from Timbuktu with a group of Jewish traders. The authors of Roger 1826 and Coyne 1889 interviewed Saharans who described transregional caravan trade.

                                                        • Aby Serour, Mardochée. “Premier établissement des Israelites à Tombouctou.” Bulletin de la Société de Géographie. Translated by Auguste Beaumier. 19 (May–June 1870): 345–370.

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                                                          An account by a rabbi from Akka (southern Morocco) of his caravan activities and failed attempts to settle in Timbuktu.

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                                                          • Al-Walātī, Muḥammad Yaḥya ibn Muḥammad al-Mukhtār. Al-Riḥla al-Ḥijāziya (1330–1912). Beirut, Lebanon: Dār al-gharb al-islāmī, 1990.

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                                                            An informative travelogue of a pilgrim from present-day Mauritania that includes descriptions of solicited fatwas he composed along the way.

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                                                            • Bou El-Mogdad. “Voyage par terre entre le Sénégal et le Maroc: Bou-el-Mogdad, assesseur au cadi de St. Louis.” Revue Maritime et Coloniale 1er semestre (1861): 477–495.

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                                                              Written by the chief interpreter for the French in Saint-Louis (Senegal), this is an informative description of his journey by caravan to Morocco, en route to Mecca.

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                                                              • Coyne, A. Étude géographique sur L’Adrar et une partie du Sahara Occidental-Journal de route des Adrariens. Algiers, Algeria: n.p., 1889.

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                                                                Information on Saharan trade and routes derived from two Saharan traders from the Adrar region of present-day Mauritania who were interviewed in Algiers.

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                                                                • Ibn al-Ṭuwayr al-Janna, Aḥmad. Al-Riḥla al-Ḥijāziya. Annotated by Sīd Aḥmad Sālim. Rabat, Morocco: Institut des Études Africaines, 1995.

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                                                                  A mid-19th-century pilgrimage travelogue by a Muslim scholar from Wadan (northern Mauritania) who describes his encounters, accommodations, and purchases on his round trip to Mecca.

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                                                                  • Panet, Léopold. Première exploration du Sahara occidental: Relation d’un voyage du Sénégal au Maroc 1850. Paris: Le Livre Africain, 1968.

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                                                                    The narrative of Senegalese métis who crossed in 1849–1850 over to Morocco along western caravan routes, accompanied by a Jewish caravaner from the northern terminus of Guelmīm. He describes his crossing, merchants, and markets.

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                                                                    • Roger, Jacques-François. “Résultat des questions adressées au nommé Mbouia, marabou maure, de Tischit, et à un nègre de Walet, qui l’accompagnait.” Société de Géographie de Paris, Recueil de Voyages et Mémoires 2 (1826): 51–62.

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                                                                      Contains details about trans-Saharan trade based on interviews with two Saharans from two caravan oasis towns in present-day Mauritania.

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                                                                      • Shabeeny, El Hage Abd Salam. An Account of Timbuctoo and Housa, Territories in the Interior of Africa. London: Longman, 1820.

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                                                                        An account by a well-traveled Muslim from Tetuan, Morocco, who apparently accompanied his father on caravans for fourteen years, and lived in Timbuktu for two years, from whence he would have traveled to Hausaland. He was interviewed by James Grey Jackson, who resided for many years in southern Morocco.

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                                                                        Early Modern European Sources

                                                                        Few European accounts of trans-Saharan trade before the modern era exist. Malfante’s 15th-century description of the oasis of Tuwat (de la Roncière 1925) is well-known. A century later, a Frenchman recorded information of caravan trade emanating from Tripoli (Lange 1981).

                                                                        • de la Roncière, Charles. “Voyages d’explorateurs européens au Touât et à Tombouctou: Relation de voyage expédiée du Touât à Gênes de Antonio Malfante.” In Découverte de l’Afrique au moyen-âge. Vol. 2, Le périple du continent. By Charles de la Roncière, 143–162. Cairo, Egypt: Société Royale de Géographie d’Égypte, 1925.

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                                                                          French translation of the Genoese trader Antonius Malfante’s 1447 letter from Tuwat (central Algeria). It provides information on trans-Saharan trade from Tuwat to Timbuktu obtained through interviews with merchants.

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                                                                          • Lange, Dierk. “Un document de la fin du XVIIe siècle sur le commerce transsaharien.” In Le sol, la parole, et l’écrit: Mélanges en hommage à Raymond Mauny. Edited by Jean Devisse, 674–681. Paris: Société Française d’Histoire d’Outre-mer, 1981.

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                                                                            Lange presents a rare account of trans-Saharan trade by a French interpreter based on various interviews with a delegation from Tripoli that included two slaves from Bornu. The original text describes caravan loads and routes from Tripoli to Timbuktu and Bornu.

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                                                                            19th-Century European Travelogues and Accounts

                                                                            The 19th-century European explorers wrote profusely about their travels in the Sahara. Because they engaged in trade along the way, and because it was of prime interest to their readers, their accounts are rich in commercial information. Barbier 1985 is an edited collection of sources of great interest. The celebrated travelers who authored Caillié 1830, Barth 1965, Nachtigal 1971–1987, and Lenz 1886–1887 wrote profusely about their caravan travels and encounters. A French consul quantified caravan trade between Morocco and Timbuktu (Ollive 1880) and a Scottish entrepreneur (Mackenzie 1877) provided a detailed assessment of trans-Saharan trade to the western Sahara.

                                                                            • Barbier, Maurice, ed. Voyages et explorations au Sahara occidental au XIXe siècle. Paris: L’Harmattan, 1985.

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                                                                              A useful collection of excerpts from 19th-century travelogues and descriptions of Saharan caravan trade.

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                                                                              • Barth, Heinrich. Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa (1849–1855). 3 vols. London: Cass, 1965.

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                                                                                Traveling from Tripoli to Adamawa and back, via Timbuktu, Barth’s travelogue is an invaluable resource, made especially so because of his scholarly training in commercial history and knowledge of Arabic.

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                                                                                • Caillié, René. Journal d’un voyage à Tembouctou et à Jenné dans l’Afrique centrale. Paris: Imprimerie du Roi, 1830.

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                                                                                  Written by the first known European to leave Timbuktu alive, this is a remarkable primary source. Especially useful are chapters 22–26, describing his crossing on a large caravan that increased in size after it was joined by others in Arawan, and his arrival in Morocco’s Tafilalt.

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                                                                                  • Lenz, Oskar. Timbouctou: Voyage au Maroc, au Sahara et au Soudan. Translated from German by Pierre Lehautcourt. 2 vols. Paris: Hachette, 1886–1887.

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                                                                                    Of great interest because Lenz made the first successful crossing by a European from Morocco to Timbuktu in 1879, via Tindouf, and later to Senegal. He provides useful details about the rigors of caravan travel, Timbuktu’s market, and commerce with Morocco and Libya.

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                                                                                    • Mackenzie, Donald A. The Flooding of the Sahara: An Account of the Proposed Plan for Opening Central Africa to Commerce and Civilization from the North-West Coast, with a Description of Soudan and Western Sahara, and Notes of Ancient Manuscripts. London: Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1877.

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                                                                                      Mackenzie’s plan to open a British port on the coast of the western Sahara would eventually fail, but his writings are a useful source of information on the nature and volume of trans-Saharan traffic.

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                                                                                      • Nachtigal, Gustav. Sahara and Sudan. Translated from the original German with an introduction and notes by Allan G. B. Fisher and Humphrey J. Fisher with Rex S. O’Fahey. 4 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971–1987.

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                                                                                        This German explorer lived in North Africa for several years before embarking on a diplomatic mission from Tripoli to Bornu in the 1860s. His caravan travels, detailed in his four volumes, cover the central Saharan regions of present-day Libya, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and the Sudan.

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                                                                                        • Ollive, Dr. “Commerce du Maroc avec Timbouctou.” Bulletin de la Société de Géographie d’Aix-Marseilles 1–3 (1880): 5–7.

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                                                                                          This consular doctor describes the great yearly caravan between Mogador (Morocco) and Timbuktu (Mali), including estimates of its loads of gold, ostrich feathers, ivory, and slaves.

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                                                                                          Colonial Reports on Caravan Commerce

                                                                                          After the French conquest of Algeria in 1830, information on caravan trade and routes became a subject of great interest. Daumas 1848 published a book describing the itinerary of a caravan to Hausaland, D’Escayrac de Lauture 1853 sketched out the known axes of caravan circulation, and Aucapitaine 1861 studied caravans, including yearly pilgrimage caravans. In the wake of the occupation of western Africa, a number of studies about Saharan-Sahelien exchange were published. Faidherbe 1859, by a French colonial officer trained in Algeria, described caravan trade between North and West Africa, as did Etiévant 1910 and Dupas 1938 for later periods. Baillaud 1902 is a description of the Sahelian markets of Mali, and Duponchel 1879 published one of the earliest plans for a trans-Saharan railway to capture caravan traffic between Algeria and Senegal.

                                                                                          • Aucapitaine, Henri (Baron). Étude sur la caravane de la Mecque et le commerce de l’intérieur de l’Afrique. Paris: Impr. de J. Claye, 1861.

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                                                                                            A member of the French national academy, this prolific French military officer who served primarily in Algeria produced the first study of Saharan caravans and trade linked to Muslim pilgrimage routes.

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                                                                                            • Baillaud, Emile. Sur les routes du Soudan. Toulouse, France: Edouard Privat, 1902.

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                                                                                              Written by a French colonial officer, this book documents Sahelian-Saharan trade, in particular the salt trade, from the vantage point of Malian markets (namely, Nioro, Banamba, and especially Timbuktu) recently conquered by France.

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                                                                                              • Daumas, Ernest. Le Grand Desert: Itinéraire d’une caravane du Sahara au pays des nègres (Royaume de Haousa). Paris: Imprimerie Napoléon Chaix et Cie, 1848.

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                                                                                                Despites its prejudicial portrayal of Muslims, this is a useful study of the organization of caravan trade based on interviews with western Africans and Saharans, including a caravaner paid to undertake the trip from Algiers to Kano and report back.

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                                                                                                • D’Escayrac de Lauture, M. Le Compte. “Routes africaines, moyens de transport, caravanes.” Bulletin de la Société de Géographie 5 (1853): 204–239.

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                                                                                                  An early sketch of Saharan caravan routes based on oral sources.

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                                                                                                  • Dupas, Capitaine. “Le commerce transsaharien entre le sud du Maroc et le Sahara occidental et la Mauritanie.” La France Méditerranéenne et l’Afrique: Bulletin d’Études Économiques et Sociales 1 (1938): 76–85.

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                                                                                                    An informative discussion of the extent of caravan trade in early-20th-century northwestern Africa.

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                                                                                                    • Duponchel, Adolphe. Le Chemin de Fer Trans-Saharien: Jonction colonial entre l’Algérie et le Soudan. Paris: Hachette, 1879.

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                                                                                                      One of the earliest proponents of the creation of a trans-Saharan railway from Algiers to Timbuktu, a French colonial pipe dream that generated much interest.

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                                                                                                      • Etiévant, Lieutenant. “Le commerce tripolitain dans le centre africain.” Afrique Française 9 (September 1910): 277–282.

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                                                                                                        A description of the size and nature of trade goods transported by way of caravan trade from Tripoli to central Africa.

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                                                                                                        • Faidherbe, Louis. “Renseignements géographiques sur la partie du Sahara comprise entre l’Oued Noun et le Soudan.” Nouvelles Annales des Voyages de la Géographie, de l’Histoire et de l’Archéologie 1 (1859): 129–156.

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                                                                                                          Based on interviews with merchants conducted in Senegal, this article described the people and markets between Senegal and the Wad Nun region on the northern desert edge, an important terminus of western caravan trade until the second half of the 19th century.

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                                                                                                          Early Trade until Late Antiquity

                                                                                                          The earliest documented Saharan routes were frequented by so-called Garamantes who presumably organized expeditions on horse-drawn chariots between the Punic North and Central Africa in search of information, fabled carbuncle gemstones, and occasionally enslaved Africans (Law 1967). Carpenter 1956 sketches the contours of trans-Saharan trade routes based on Herodotus, and Salama 1981 provides an overview of Saharan trade in this early period. Archaeologists identified two “chariot routes”: a western route from northwestern Algeria through Mauritania and ending in the Niger River bend (Mauny 1947) and an eastern branch connecting northern Libya to the markets of the Central Sudan (Lhote 1951). Trans-Saharan trade would evolve along these two axes and a third one linking the Sudan to Egypt. The existence of these so-called routes and even the frequency of travel across the Sahara (as opposed to regional Saharan trade) has since been doubted (Swanson 1975, Wilson 2012). Traffic would accelerate with the introduction of the camel, or single-hump dromedary, sometime after the 2nd century. This resourceful domestic animal became the engine of caravan transportation, enabling inhabitants to adopt nomadic pastoralism and transport loads across the northern half of the African continent. By the 6th century, camel caravans were supplying gold to Byzantine Carthage, capital of Ifriqiya. Precisely when the trans-Saharan trade in western African gold began remains a matter of debate (Garrard 1982, Kaegi 1984).

                                                                                                          • Carpenter, Rhys. “A Trans-Saharan Caravan Route in Herodotus.” American Journal of Archaeology 60.3 (1956): 231–242.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/500150Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            A close reading of the second book of Herodotus’s Histories, which is the oldest known description of Saharan caravan routes. Despite its errors (such as mistaking Ghadames for Jerma), this study is noteworthy for being the first of its kind. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                            • Garrard, Timothy. “Myth and Metrology: The Early Trans-Saharan Gold Trade.” Journal of African History 23 (1982): 443–461.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700021290Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Based on numismatics, namely, a study of the solidus gold coin minted in the early 4th century in Byzantine Carthage, Garrard argues that the gold trade before then was irregular at best. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                              • Kaegi, Walter. “Byzantium and the Trans-Saharan Gold Trade: A Cautionary Note.” Graeco-Arabica 3 (1984): 95–100.

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                                                                                                                This article takes issue with Garrard 1982 concerning the trans-Saharan origin of North African gold in the Late Roman and Byzantine periods.

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                                                                                                                • Law, R. C. C. “The Garamantes and Trans-Saharan Enterprise in Classical Times.” Journal of African History 8 (1967): 181–200.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700007015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Reviewing literary sources, this article appraises the extent of Saharan trade in gold, slaves, and ivory during the Roman era. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                  • Lhote, Henri. “Route antique du Sahara central.” L’Encyclopédie Mensuelle d’Outre-mer 11 (1951): 300–305.

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                                                                                                                    Based on a study of rock paintings, among other records, this article traces a potential Saharan chariot route though Libya.

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                                                                                                                    • Mauny, Raymond. “Une route préhistorique à travers le Sahara occidental.” Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Afrique Noire 17 (1947): 341–357.

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                                                                                                                      Based on a careful study of 168 illustrations of rock paintings from northwestern Morocco to northern Mali, Mauny traces a possible western trans-Saharan chariot route dating from between the 7th century BCE and the 4th century CE.

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                                                                                                                      • Salama, P. “The Sahara in Classical Antiquity.” In UNESCO General History of Africa. Vol. 2, Ancient Civilizations of Africa. Edited by G. Mokhtar, 513–532. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                                        A very useful study based on Greco-Roman sources of Saharan history that includes a map of central trade routes.

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                                                                                                                        • Swanson, John. “The Myth of Trans-Saharan Trade during the Roman Era.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 4 (1975): 582–600.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/216697Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Swanson overturns commonly held assumptions about the volume of trans-Saharan trade before the Common Era based on Roman sources. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                          • Wilson, Andrew. “Saharan Trade in the Roman Period: Short-, Medium- and Long-Distance Trade Networks.” Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 47.4 (2012): 409–449.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/0067270X.2012.727614Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Based on archaeological research in the Fezzan and Acacus regions of southern Libya, this study argues that the focus on trans-Saharan trade has hindered an appreciation of the regional nature of Saharan trade until Late Antiquity. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                            Early Muslim Era to the 12th Century

                                                                                                                            Due to the availability of primarily external Arabic sources, the first centuries of the Muslim era have received considerable attention. Mining the writings of Muslim geographers, scholars, and travelers, dating from the 8th to the 12th century, and other sources including Muslim legal opinions, historians have partially reconstructed the history of trans-Saharan and Saharan exchanges in this period. Moraes Farias 1974 discusses the question of the “silent trade” in Arabic sources. Lewicki 1964 analyzes the pioneering role Ibāḍī merchants played as early conveyors of Islam. On the organization of long-distance caravan trade, Levtzion 1968 documents the existence of financial tools and Brett 1983 highlights the challenging reliance on commercial agents. Another area of interest has been commercial exchange in the 11th-century Almoravid period (McDougall 1985, Miller 2001, Wuld al-Ḥusayn 2007). Tracing the beginnings of the Muslim slave trade is the aim of Savage 1992a and Savage 1992b (cited under Themes in Trans-Saharan Trade History: Trans-Saharan Slave Trade). A rare archaeological study of a sunken caravan informs about trans-Saharan exchange in the 12th century (Monod 1969).

                                                                                                                            • Brett, Michael. “Ifriqiya as a Market for Saharan Trade from the Tenth to the Twelfth Century A.D.” Journal of African History 10 (1969): 347–364.

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                                                                                                                              This is the first study of trans-Saharan trade published in the Journal of African History. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                              • Brett, Michael. “Islam and Trade in Bilād al-Sūdān: Tenth-Eleventh Century A.D.” Journal of African History 24 (1983): 431–440.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700027985Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Drawing on a fatwa from al-Wansharīsī’s collection (al-Wansharīsī 1981–1983, cited under Notable Archival Collections), this article informs on the complicated nature of engaging in long-distance trade from the legal standpoint. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                • Levtzion, Nehemia. “Ibn-Hawqal, the Cheque, and Awdaghost.” Journal of African History 9 (1968): 223–233.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700008847Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  A discussion of common financial transactions among merchants of Sijilmasa (Morocco) and Awdaghost (Mauritania).

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                                                                                                                                  • Lewicki, Tadeusz. “Traits d’histoire du commerce transsaharien: Marchands et missionnaires ibâdites en Soudan occidental et central au cours des VIIIe–XIIe siècles.” Etnografia Polska 8 (1964): 291–311.

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                                                                                                                                    An study of Ibāḍī traders who were among the first carriers of Islam to western Africa.

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                                                                                                                                    • McDougall, E. Ann. “The View from Awdaghust: War, Trade and Social Change in the Southwestern Sahara, from the Eighth to the Fifteenth Century.” Journal of African History 26 (1985): 1–31.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700023069Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      This article considers various factors, including patterns of trade and desertification, to explain the rise and fall of southern Saharan settlements. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                      • Miller, James. “Trading through Islam: The Interconnections between Sijilmasa, Ghana and the Almoravid Movement.” Journal of North African Studies 6.1 (2001): 29–58.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/13629380108718420Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Despite assumptions made about the Almoravid impact in Ghana, this is an informative article that places in broad context the history of Sijilmasa, the main Maghribi caravan terminus that the gold-trading Muslim reformists took over in the 11th century. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                        • Monod, Théodore. “Le ‘Maʿden Ijâfen’: Une épave caravanière ancienne dans la Majabat al-Koubra.” In Actes du Premier Colloque international d’archéologie africaine: Fort-Lamy, République du Tchad, 11–16 décembre 1966. 286–320. Fort-Lamy, Chad: Institut national tchadien pour les sciences humaines, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                          This little-known conference paper documents the excavation of a capsized caravan by Monod, who dated it to the 12th century. It included loads of brass and copper rods and baskets of cowry shells.

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                                                                                                                                          • Moraes Farias, Paulo Fernando de. “Silent Trade: Myth and Historical Evidence.” History in Africa 1 (1974): 9–24.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/3171758Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            This study compares how Arab geographers across time discuss the so-called silent trade system that served to explain how cross-cultural exchange was carried out. He traces this concept to Herodotus. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                            • Wuld al-Ḥusayn, al-Nānī. Ṣaḥrāʾal-mulathamīn: Dirāsat liTaʾrīkh Mūrītāniyā wa-tafāuʿluhāmaʻa muḥīṭīhā al-iqlīmī khilāl al-ʿaṣr al-wasīṭ min muntaṣaf al-qarn 2H/8M. ilā nihāyat al-qarn 5H./11M. Beirut, Lebanon: Dār al-Madār al-Islāmī, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                              An important study of the multifaceted exchanges between western Africa, primarily the region of present-day Mauritania and the Maghrib, from the 8th to the 11th century. It includes close to eighty pages of discussion about trans-Saharan trade based primarily on known sources.

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                                                                                                                                              Golden Age to the 16th Century

                                                                                                                                              For a number of reasons, not least of which is the ostentatious pilgrimage caravan of Mansa Musa, Emperor of Mali, described in several written sources, the 14th century long has been considered the golden age of trans-Saharan trade. Devisse 1972 describes the evolution of wide-ranging political and economic ties between Western African states and North Africa over centuries. Similarly, Hamani 1995 sees the Moroccan invasion of Songhay as a watershed. An important focus has been to document the gold trade and the elusive Wangara traders (Bovill 1929, Lovejoy 1978). Another is the attempt by Hiskett 1966 to trace how cowry shells entered West Africa by way of trans-Saharan trade. Martin 1969 pieces together evidence documenting the central caravan routes between Kanem-Bornu and the Libyan North.

                                                                                                                                              • Bovill, Edward William. “The Silent Trade of Wangara.” Journal of the Royal African Society 28 (1929): 27–38.

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                                                                                                                                                Bovill documents the confusion in the sources surrounding the location of the gold-mining regions in western Africa, focusing on the period from the 12th to the 15th century. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                • Devisse, Jean. “Routes de commerce et échanges en Afrique occidentale en relation avec la Méditterranée: Un essai sur le commerce africain médiéval du XIe au XVIe siècle.” Revue d’Histoire Economique et Sociale 50.1 (1972): 42–73 and 50.3: 357–397.

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                                                                                                                                                  This article in two parts is a comprehensive discussion of caravan trade based the earliest available sources.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Hamani, Djibou. “Le Hausa entre le Maroc et le Songhay à la fin du XVIè siecle.” In Le Maroc et l’Afrique subsaharienne aux débuts des temps modernes: Les Saʿadiens et l’empire Songhay; Actes du colloque international organisé par l’Institut des études africaines, Marrakech, 23—25 octobre 1992, 65–77. Rabat, Morocco: Institut des Études Africaines, Université Mohamed V, Rabat, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                    A chapter that provides important information on Hausa markets and trade goods featured in trans-Saharan trade, which includes a map of central caravan routes.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Hiskett, Melvyn. “Materials Relating to the Cowry Currency of the Western Sudan—II: Reflections on the Provenance and Diffusion of the Cowry in the Sahara and the Sudan.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 29 (1966): 339–366.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0041977X00058894Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Based on a review of early Arabic sources, this article tracks the trans-Saharan routes through which cowry shells reached western African markets. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Lovejoy, Paul E. “The Role of the Wangara in the Economic Transformation of the Central Sudan in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.” Journal of African History 19 (1978): 173–193.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700027584Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        A study of the Wangara network of traders who originally specialized in the gold trade and were key intermediaries in trans-Saharan trade. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Martin, B. G. “Kanem, Bornu, and the Fazzān: Notes on the Political History of a Trade Route.” Journal of African History 10 (1969): 15–27.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700009257Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          An early study of the diplomatic relations between Bornu and Libya. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                          Trade in the 17th and 18th Centuries

                                                                                                                                                          The period after Morocco’s invasion of Songhay in 1591 and the late 18th century, prelude to the European conquest, remains one of the most understudied in African history. This scholarly gap is explained partly by the dearth of written primary sources available in any language. In the beginning of this period, several so-called chronicles were produced in and around Timbuktu, which characteristically yields sparse information on the mundane world of commerce, as previously noted. Abitbol 1980 and Webb 1995 examine the main currents of trade in the era following the fall of Songhay, while Dyer 1984 is concerned with Libya’s domestic economy. Walz 1978, an important study of northeastern caravan trade until the early 19th century, deserves wider circulation.

                                                                                                                                                          • Abitbol, Michel. “Le Maroc et le commerce transsaharien du XVIIe siècle au début du XIXe siècle.” Revue de l’Occident Musulman et de la Méditerranée 30 (1980): 5–19.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.3406/remmm.1980.1887Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            An excellent overview of Morocco’s trade after its conquest of Songhay that traces the different routes and local Saharan groups securing them. Abitbol argues against the grain that trans-Saharan trade did not fully decline after this time.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Dyer, Mark. “Export Production in Western Libya, 1750–1793.” African Economic History 13 (1984): 117–136.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/3601481Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              This article attempts to refocus the attention away from Libya as a passageway of trans-Saharan trade and toward an understanding of the region’s pastoral, nomadic, and agricultural landscapes. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Walz, Terence. Trade between Egypt and Bilād As-Sūdān, 1700–1820. Cairo, Egypt: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale du Caire, 1978.

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                                                                                                                                                                A landmark study based, in part, on northern Egyptian archival sources. This is the only publication featured in this annotated bibliography that is concerned with eastern trans-Saharan trade routes in Egypt, the Sudan, and eastern Chad, including the famous darb al-ʿarbayīn caravan route.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Webb, James L. A. Desert Frontier: Ecological and Economic Change along the Western Sahel, 1600–1850. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                  An important book that provides the historical context for understanding Saharan-Sahelian economic exchange, including the trans-Saharan horse for slave trade.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Caravan Trade in the 19th Century

                                                                                                                                                                  The bulk of the research on caravan trade history produced by African and foreign scholars has concentrated on the 19th century. European and, to a lesser extent, American sources of various kinds abound for this period and form the basis for quantitative studies of trans-Saharan traffic. One of the early discussions concerned the competition between camel caravan trade and the trade transported by European merchant ships. Moving away from broad overviews of trans-Saharan trade, many scholars turned to specific case studies that made use of local written and oral sources to understand the inner dynamics of commercial organizing. Still, the history of caravan trade from western African markets to Morocco and Libya is far better documented than trade to Algerian markets.

                                                                                                                                                                  General Works

                                                                                                                                                                  It was long thought that with the flourishing of maritime trade and European coastal presence in Africa, caravans competed with seafaring caravels, and that consequently caravan traffic had been reduced to a trickle by the second half of the 19th century. Newbury 1966 went a long way toward redressing this misunderstanding in the literature, and arguably triggered subsequent interest in trans-Saharan trade. Despite its flawed assessment about the volume of trans-Saharan trade in the 19th century, Adu Boahen’s research (Adu Boahen 1962, Adu Boahen 1964) remains seminal. Baier 1989 wrote a useful overview, and Lydon 2009 (cited under General Overviews) studied the evolution of caravan trade in western Africa in this period.

                                                                                                                                                                  • Adu Boahen, Albert. “The Caravan Trade in the Nineteenth Century.” Journal of African History 3.3 (1962): 349–359.

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                                                                                                                                                                    The article informs about goods and main commercial axes during the period of European imperial expansion. It includes a map. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Adu Boahen, Albert. Britain, the Sahara, and the Western Sudan, 1788–1861. Oxford: Clarendon, 1964.

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                                                                                                                                                                      A landmark study mainly concerned with British diplomacy and European competition in the Sahara and the Sahel, which includes a chapter on the caravan trade and another on the trans-Saharan traffic in slaves.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Baier, Stephen. “The Sahara in the Nineteenth Century.” In UNESCO General History of Africa. Vol. 6, Africa in the Nineteenth Century until the 1880s. Edited by J. F. Ade Aiayi, 515–536. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                        An overview of Saharan history focused on camel nomads, pastoralism, religious movements, and French colonialism.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Newbury, Colin W. “North African and Western Sudan Trade in the Nineteenth Century: A Re-Evaluation.” Journal of African History 7 (1966): 233–246.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700006290Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          This was a landmark publication that argued against the scholarly grain that the 19th century witnessed a resurgence of trans-Saharan traffic. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Case Studies

                                                                                                                                                                          Scholars have focused on discrete cases of trade networks, routes, or nodes. Brûlard 1958 and Al-Ḥandīrī 1991 examine trans-Saharan trade between Libya and Niger, and Baier 1977 studied this trade from the vantage point of Niger’s town of Damergu. Naṣīr al-Abayḍ 1999 produced a study of the commercial center of Murzuq and Ḍayyāf 1999 did the same for the Libyan oasis of Ghat. North African merchant communities in Mali were the subject of Brenner 1971. Studies of trans-Saharan trade networks include Genevière 1950 on the Kounta, and Naïmi 1987 and Lydon 2009 (cited under General Overviews) on the Tikna. Finally Oßwald 1986 and Ould Aiddah 2009 document the histories of four oasis towns once central to western Saharan trade.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Baier, Stephen. “Trans-Saharan Trade and the Sahel: Damergu, 1870–1930.” Journal of African History 18.1 (1977): 37–61.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S002185370001522XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            In this article, Baier examines market changes in a region of central Niger traversed by Tripoli–Kano caravan traffic wrought by late-19th-century shifts and the eventual demise of large-scale caravans in the first decades of the 20th century. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Brenner, Louis. “The North African Trading Community in the Nineteenth Century Central Sudan.” In Aspects of West African Islam. Edited by Daniel F. McCall and Norman R. Bennett, 137–150. Boston: Boston University Papers on Africa, 1971.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Provides a sense of the 19th-century Maghribi and Libyan caravan traders stationed in Malian markets.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Brûlard, Marcel. “Aperçu sur le commerce caravanier Tripolitaine-Ghat-Niger vers la fin du XIXème siècle.” Bulletin de Liaison Saharienne 29 (1958): 202–215.

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                                                                                                                                                                                A description of caravan trade between Libya and Niger in the last decade of the 19th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Ḍayyāf, Najmī Rajab. Madīnat Ghāt wa-tijārat al-qawāfil al-Ṣaḥrāwīya khilāl al-qarn al-tāsiʻ ʻashar al-milādī. Tripoli, Libya: Markaz Jihād al-Lībīyīn, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  A study of Ghat, a major caravan town in southwestern Libya, informed by local sources such as commercial account books and correspondence. Chapter 3 examines Ghat’s economy and caravanning activities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Genevière, J. “Les Kountas et leurs activités commerciales.” Bulletin de l’IFAN, Série B 12.4 (1950): 1111–1127.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    An early study of the commercial role of the Kunta, a clan that operated caravans between Tuwat and Timbuktu, and across to the western markets of Wadan and Walata.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Al-Ḥandīrī, Saʻīd ʿAbd al-Raḥmān. “Taṭawīr tijāra al-qawāfil fī wilāya Ṭarāblus al-gharb fī al-fatra min 1835 ilā 1911m.” Majallat al-Buḥūth al-Taʾrīkhiya 23 (1991): 63–78.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Based on a variety of sources, this article examines the organization of caravan trade emanating from Tripoli, providing information on the groups involved, trade routes, and trade volume.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Naïmi, Mustapha. “The Evolution of the Tekna Confederation Caught between Coastal Commerce and Trans-Saharan Trade.” In Tribe and State: Essays in Memory of David Montgomery Hart. Edited by E. G. H. Joffe and C. R. Pennell, 213–238. Wisbech, UK: Middle East and North African Studies Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        A study of the role of Tikna traders who coordinated caravans and coastal trade.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Naṣīr al-Abayḍ, Rajab. Madīnat Murzuq wa-tijāra al-qawāfil al-Ṣaḥrāwīya khilāl al-qarn al-tāsiʻ ʻashar. Tripoli, Libya: Markaz Jihād al-Lībīyīn, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          A study of the caravan center of Murzuk in Libya’s Fezzan in the 19th century. The author uses Ottoman archives to document the politics of trade and diplomacy, but primarily relies on European sources in his general discussion of trade routes and goods radiating from Murzuk.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Oßwald, Rainer. Die Handelsstädte der Westsahara: Die Entwicklung der arabisch-maurischen Kultur von Šinqīṭ, Wādān, Tīšīt und Walāta. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            A study of the four oldest Saharan towns in present-day Mauritania, based on a critical reading of Arabic and foreign and colonial sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ould Aiddah, Aḥmad Mawlūd. Al-Ṣaḥrāʾ al-kubrā: Mudun wa Quṣūr. 2 vols. Algiers, Algeria: Wazīrat al-thaqāfa, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              An in-depth study of the history of the four commercial oasis towns of present-day Mauritania, based on a variety of original sources, including legal and architectural evidence.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Use of African Commercial Records

                                                                                                                                                                                              Until recently, most studies of trans-Saharan trade relied on external sources (Arabic records and primarily European sources for later periods). Making use of African evidence, namely, oral sources and the records of Muslim traders kept primarily in Arabic, scholars have been able to better document the inner workings of Saharan caravan trade. Pascon 1984 and McDougall 2005 studied the commercial registers of two northern Saharan trading houses, and Harmann 1998 reviewed Libyan sources. Aouad 1993 focuses on a particular Saharan trading family, based in part on oral sources, and Saied 1996 reviews a panoply of formal and informal source material documenting Libyan trade to western Africa. Finally, Lydon 2008 and Hall 2011 mined commercial records from Mali and Mauritania to understand the contractual world of caravanning and the reliance on enslaved trade agents.

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Aouad, Rita. “Réseaux marocains en Afrique sub-saharienne: Le Tekna de L’oued Noun, l’exemple de la famille Benbarka, 1880–1930.” Revue Maroc-Europe 4 (1993).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Presents the case study of a Tikna family trading between southern Morocco and Mali, based in part on oral interviews and family archives.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hall, Bruce. “How Slaves Used Islam: The Letters of Enslaved Muslim Commercial Agents in the Nineteenth-Century Niger Bend and Central Sahara.” Journal of African History 52 (2011): 279–297.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0021853711000491Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  An informative account of the 19th-century commercial correspondence of enslaved caravan workers from Ghadames, Libya, stationed in Timbuktu. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Harmann, Ulrich. “The Dead Ostrich: Life and Trade in Ghadames (Libya) in the Nineteenth Century.” Die Welt des Islams 38 (1998): 9–94.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1163/1570060982598118Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a review of the trade records contained in the collections published by Bashīr Qāsim b. Yushaʾ (Yushaʾ 1982, cited under Notable Archival Collections). Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Lydon, Ghislaine. “Contracting Caravans: Partnership and Profit in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Trans-Saharan Trade.” Journal of Global History 3.1 (2008): 89–113.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      A study of various contractual models that facilitated the Saharan trade operations, based on archival records from Mauritania, Mali, and Morocco.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • McDougall, E. Ann. “Conceptualising the Sahara: The World of Nineteenth-Century Beyrouk Commerce.” Journal of North African Studies 10 (2005): 369–386.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/13629380500336730Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A discussion of the Saharan commercial landscape informed by a review of trade records documenting a prominent Tikna merchant based on the northern desert edge. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pascon, Paul. “Le commerce de la Maison d’Illigh d’après le registre comptable de Husayn B. Hachem Tazerwalt, 1850–1875.” In La Maison d’Illigh et l’histoire sociale du Tazerwalt. Edited by Paul Pascon, A. Arrif, D. Schroeter, M. Tozy, and H. Van Der Wusten. Rabat, Morocco: SMER, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          An informative discussion of caravan organizing and trans-Saharan trade drawing from the account book (kunnāsh) of a prominent merchant of Illigh in southern Morocco.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Saied, Ahmed. “Commerce et commerçants dans le Sahara central: Les échanges entre le vilayet de Tripoli et les pays de l’Afrique centrale de 1835 à 1911.” PhD diss., Université de Provence-Aix-Marseilles I, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            An original dissertation based on an wide array of sources, ranging from private family archives and interviews with retired caravaners, to commercial, consular, and national archives in Libya and France, which unfortunately remains unpublished. Saied examines the main groups involved (including Jewish merchants) and the routes, merchandise, and slaves, following the evolution of commerce to the collapse of caravan traffic in the early 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Quantitative Estimations

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Prompted by Newbury 1966 (cited under Caravan Trade in the 19th Century: General Works), historians sought to quantify the volume of the trans-Saharan trade in the 19th century. Because caravan traders rarely kept quantitative accounts, and because of the inaccessibility to local records, historians in this section rely primarily on external sources. Using consular records, Miège 1975 and Miège 1981–1982 drew statistical series of the Saharan trade entering the ports of Mogador (Morocco) and Tripoli (Libya), and Tamouh-Akhchichine 1982 provides a sense of the trade between Mali and Morocco. For her part, Johnson sought to understand currencies and valuations, starting with the standard gold weight (Johnson 1968), and produced quantitative studies of the trade in cotton cloth (Johnson 1976) and ostrich feathers (Johnson 1981). Austen 1979 attempted to quantify the slave trade across the Sahara, and Austen and Cordell 2002 documented the shifts in caravan trade in the era of European mercantilism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Austen, Ralph. “Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: A Tentative Census.” In The Uncommon Market: Essays in the Economic History of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Edited by Henry Gemery and Jan S. Hogendorn, 23–79. New York: Academic Press, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              An attempt to quantify the volume of the slave trade across to northern African markets based on European sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Austen, Ralph, and Dennis Cordell. “Trade, Transportation, and Expanding Economic Networks: Saharan Caravan Commerce in the Era of European Expansion, 1500–1900.” In Black Business and Economic Power. Edited by Alusine Jalloh and Toyin Falola. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                An evaluation of the nature and volume of caravan trade to northern African ports of trade based in large part on consular records and the writings of European travelers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Johnson, Marion. “The Nineteenth-Century Gold ‘Mithqal’ in West and North Africa.” Journal of African History 9 (1968): 547–569.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700009038Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An original study of the Muslim weight for gold that was a standard measure in regions connected by way of caravan trade. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Johnson, Marion. “Calico Caravans: The Tripoli-Kano Trade after 1880.” Journal of African History 17 (1976): 95–117.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S002185370001478XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another important study by a remarkable historian documenting the vibrant trade into western Africa of cotton bales of European origin and the preponderant role of caravan traders from Ghadames. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Johnson, Marion. “Tijārat rīsh al-naʿām fī al-niṣf al-awal min al-qarn al-tāsiʾ ʿashar.” Majallat al-Buḥūth al-Taʾrīkhiya 3 (1981): 101–177.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A study of the ostrich feather trade from western to northern Africa published only in its Arabic translation (see discussion under Journals).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Miège, Jean-Louis. “La Libye et le commerce transsaharien au XIXe siècle.” Revue de l’Occident Musulman et de la Méditerranée 19 (1975): 135–168.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.3406/remmm.1975.1317Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Based on a large and varied number of European consular records, Miège documents the revitalization of trans-Saharan trade to Tripoli from the 1840s, after the decrease in traffic to Algeria, noting the peak in the 1880s. Contains statistical and graphical data.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Miège, Jean-Louis. “Le commerce transsaharien au XIXe siècle: Essai de quantification.” Revue du Monde Musulman et de la Méditerranée 32 (1981–1982): 93–120.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.3406/remmm.1981.1922Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A census of the volume of trans-Saharan caravan trade entering the Moroccan port city of Essaouira (Mogador).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Tamouh-Akhchichine, Zahra. “Le Maroc et le Soudan au XIXe siècle (1830–1894): Contribution à l’histoire inter-régionale de l’Afrique.” PhD diss., Centre de Recherches Africaines, Université de Panthéon, Sorbonne, Paris I, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Building on the work of Miège, this much-cited dissertation on Morocco’s commerce with Mali in the 19th century regrettably remains unpublished.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Caravans in the Colonial Period and More Recent Times

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What happened to caravan trade systems in the wake of colonial conquest is an understudied subject, perhaps due to lingering notions that the demise of caravan trade predates this period. Bougeot 1978 studied how the French conquest affected Saharan exchanges and Tuareg societies. Aouad-Badoual 1995 documents how former caravanning families and other Moroccans transferred to the retail businesses in colonial Senegal and the Gambia. Bonte 2000 examines similar patterns among Mauritanian traders. Adamou 1979 and Abdoulhadi 1998 take a longue durée approach to the caravan trade from the point of view of Niger, and Brachet 2009 focuses on more recent developments. Fortier 2009 examines the international business activities of women from Mauritania, placing this country’s caravan past in perspective. Scheele 2012 embraces a multidisciplinary approach to the 20th-century trucking business between Mali and Algeria. The most recent scholarship, much of which is included in several edited volumes, is concerned with the contemporary period and especially the subject of trans-Saharan migration (Marfaing and Wippel 2004, McDougall and Scheele 2012, Thomas 1952).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Abdoulhadi, Hamit. “La piste du commerce transsaharien Tripoli–Lac Tchad: Étude d’anthropologie économique et historique.” PhD diss., Université Paris VIII Vincennes, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A voluminous dissertation that combines historical anthropology and geography to understand the relations between Libya and Niger from the 18th century until the end of the 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Adamou, Aboubacar. Agadez et sa région: Contribution à l’étude du Sahel et du Sahara nigériens. Études nigériennes 44. Paris: CNRS, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This published dissertation is an important geographical study of the city of Agadez that highlights its historical role as a caravan market.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Aouad-Badoual, Rita. “Colonisation française et échanges transsahariens: Aspects des relations Maroc-Afrique noire d’une guerre à l’autre (1914–1939).” Maroc-Europe 8 (1995): 219–245.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Focused on the case of Moroccan traders in western African markets who, after the collapse of trans-Saharan caravan trade in the wake of the French conquest, shifted their activities to coastal ports of trade, namely, as intermediaries of French trading houses.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bonte, Pierre. “Faire fortune au Sahara (Mauritanie): Permanences et ruptures.” In Special Issue: Afrique noire et monde arabe: Continuités et ruptures. Edited by Emmanuel Grégoire and Jean Schmitz. Autrepart 16 (2000): 49–65.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Takes a long-term perspective to argue that not until the second half of the 19th century and especially in the colonial period did Saharan caravaners residing in present-day Mauritania generate substantial profits from their commercial activities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Bougeot, André. “Les échanges transsahariens, la Senusiya et les révoltes twareg de 1916–17.” Cahiers d’Études Africaines 69–70 (1978): 159–185.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This study traces the links among French colonization, trans-Saharan commerce, the Sanusiya Sufi Order, and Tuareg wars of resistance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Brachet, Julien. Migrations transsahariennes: Vers un désert cosmopolite et morcelé (Niger). Paris: Édition du Croquant, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An original study by a social geographer of Saharan migrations emanating from Niger.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Fortier, Corrine. “Routes de commerçantes. Itinéraires de femmes. De quelques big women Mauritaniennes d’hier et d’aujourd’hui.” In Routes, voyages et circulations au féminin entre Afrique et Méditerranée. Edited by M. Cheikh and M. Péraldi, 73–93. Paris: Edition le Fennec, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A study of the transnational activities of Mauritanian business women that ponders their caravanning family history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Marfaing, Laurence, and Steffen Wippel, eds. Les relations transsahariennes à l’époque contemporaine: Un espace en constante mutation. Paris: Karthala, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a collection of twenty multidisciplinary chapters on various aspects of intraregional exchange, from Sufi connections to migratory patterns.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • McDougall, James, and Judith Scheele, eds. Saharan Frontiers: Space and Mobility in Northwestern Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Contains fourteen chapters covering various topics. Especially relevant are the chapters by Oudada, Scheele, and Brachet that discuss economic transactions across Morocco, Mali, and the Central Sahara.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Scheele, Judith. Smugglers and Saints of the Sahara: Regional Connectivity in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139135412Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A study of intra-Saharan truck traffic in contraband and the movement of peoples between Algeria and Mali based on multisite research in local and colonial archives and among long-distance entrepreneurs, dispersed families, and itinerant communities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Thomas, Benjamin E. “Modern Trans-Saharan Routes.” Geographical Review 42.2 (April 1952): 267–282.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/211390Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Traces the shifting routes since World War I and the beginnings of truck and bus transportation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Themes in Trans-Saharan Trade History

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Several significant themes arise from the current research on trans-Saharan trade systems. First the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade is a dominant subject in the Anglophone literature, much as is the case with the slavery and the slave trade in African history scholarship more generally. A second common theme is the production and exchange of salt (see Caravans of Salt). A third theme that emerges is the convergence of scholarship and trade in the trans-Saharan pathways of Islam (see Islam and Scholarly Networks). A final theme, the role of Jews in trans-Saharan trade, has generated a renewed interest since Mauny 1949 (cited under Jews and Saharan Trade).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Trans-Saharan Slave Trade

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Three edited volumes, Fisher and Fisher 1970, Savage 1992b, and Lovejoy 2004, contain cutting-edge research on various aspects of the trans-Saharan slave trade. Wright 2007 synthesizes recent research. Savage 1992a examines the slave-trading activities of Ibāḍī merchants, and Montana 2008 documents the Ottoman slave market in Tunis until the late 18th century. The end of trans-Saharan trade along central routes is the subject of Cordell 1985. Austen 1979 (cited under Caravan Trade in the 19th Century: Quantitative Estimations) has attempted to quantify the volume until 1900, while Lovejoy and Richardson 1995 gauged the size of the competing trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic slave markets. Considering the Islamic determinants of the trade in slaves, Hunwick and Trout Powell 2002 informs about the legal culture of slavery, and Lydon 2005 and Hall 2011 (cited under Caravan Trade in the 19th Century: Use of African Commercial Records) mine local archives for writings by enslaved caravan workers and legal documentation on slave transactions. More recently, Botte 2011 has examined trans-Saharan networks in the period from the 8th to the 11th centuries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Botte, Roger. “Les réseaux transsahariens de la traite de l’or et des esclaves au haut Moyen Âge: VIIIe—XIe siècle.” L’Année du Maghreb 7 (2011): 27–59.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.4000/anneemaghreb.1106Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Based a critical examination of known Arabic sources, Botte dates the involvement of Ibāḍī Merchants in the slave trade to the mid-8th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Cordell, Dennis. Dar al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A study of the political economy of a sultanate in central Africa (primarily Chad) and its slave-raiding and -trading activities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Fisher, Humphrey, and Allan B. Fisher, eds. Slavery and Muslim Society in Africa: The Institution in Saharan and Sudanic Africa and the Trans-Saharan Trade. London: Hurst, 1970.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A landmark study in two volumes about slave ownership and the slave trades among Muslim societies in Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hunwick, John, and Eve Trout Powell. The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A compilation of notes and primary sources pertaining to slavery and the slave trade to northern African markets.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lovejoy, Paul E., ed. Slavery on the Frontiers of Islam. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An collection of articles about the African, Atlantic, and trans-Saharan slave trades.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lovejoy, Paul E., and David Richardson. “Competing Markets for Male and Female Slaves: Slave Prices in the Interior of West Africa.” African Economic History 28 (1995): 261–293.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Based on an analysis of prices, this article compares the trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic slave markets, concluding that the price of female slaves remained high because of the internal African demand. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Lydon, Ghislaine. “Slavery, Exchange and Islamic Law: A Glimpse from the Archives of Mali and Mauritania.” African Economic History 33 (2005): 117–148.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After reviewing Mālikī laws on slavery, this article examines commercial and legal records that inform about transactions in slaves, including the correspondence of enslaved caravan agents. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Montana, Ismael Musah. “The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade of Ottoman Tunisia, 1574 to 1782.” Maghreb Review 33.2–3 (2008): 132–150.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This article examines the expansion of the slave trade to Tunis in the Ottoman period and the development of its slave market.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Savage, Elisabeth. “Berbers and Blacks: Ibāḍī Slave Traffic in Eighth-Century North Africa.” Journal of African History 33.3 (1992a): 351–368.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700032527Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Focused on Ibāḍī Muslims in the early days of North African Islam, Savage discusses their role in meeting the Muslim demand for enslaved Africans from the Bilād al-Sūdān. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Savage, Elizabeth, ed. The Human Commodity: Perspectives on the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade. London: Frank Cass, 1992b.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A seminal collection that includes chapters by Ann McDougall, John Hunwick, Martin Klein, and Ralph Austen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Wright, John. The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A comprehensive study of the slave trades primarily from western Africa to Morocco and Libya, and based essentially on European archival and secondary sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Caravans of Salt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Salt was the main currency of Saharan-Sahelian exchange. It was quarried in several key salt mines and flats from western Algeria and Mauritania, to northern Mali and Niger. Du Puigaudeau 1945 offers a vivid depiction of the salt trade in Mauritania. Here the most notable studies are Lovejoy 1984 and Lovejoy 2003 on the Central Sudan, Vikør 1982 on Bilma, and McDougall 1992 on the salt mine of Idjil in northern Mauritania.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Du Puigaudeau, Odette. La route du sel. Paris: Plon, 1945.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A description of the salt trade written by an intrepid French woman who traveled throughout colonial Mauritania.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lovejoy, Paul E. “Commercial Sectors in the Economy of the Nineteenth-Century Central Sudan: The Trans-Saharan Trade and the Desert-Side Salt Trade.” African Economic History 13 (1984): 85–116.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/3601480Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A study of the production and distribution of salt emanating from the various salines of northern Nigeria and Niger, based on a larger study (Lovejoy 2003). Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lovejoy, Paul. Salt of the Desert Sun: A History of Salt Production and Trade in Central Sudan. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An important study of the salt industry and commerce in Northern Nigeria and Niger (see also his book Lovejoy 2004 cited under Themes in Trans-Saharan Trade History: Trans-Saharan Slave Trade). Originally published in 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • McDougall, Ann E. “Salt, Saharans and the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade: Nineteenth Century Developments.” In The Human Commodity: Perspectives on the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade. Edited by Elizabeth Savage. London: Frank Cass, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                An informative discussion of the salt and slave trades radiating from what is today northern Mauritania.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Vikør, Knut. “The Desert-Side Salt Trade of Kawar.” African Economic History 11 (1982): 115–144.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/3601219Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A historical examination of the salt industry in Niger, namely, the salt pan of Bilma, based on the author’s dissertation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Islam and Scholarly Networks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Trans-Saharan exchange was vital to, and oftentimes sustained by, networks of Muslim scholars and pilgrims. Schmitz 2000 provides a useful overview of how Islam and later Sufi orders circulated along intercontinental routes. Wuld Saʿad 2001 examines the role of caravans in cultural and intellectual exchange. The seminal works Norris 1967 and Norris 1986 document the scholarly lineages and the production of scholarship in Mauritania and Mali. Stewart 1970 discusses an example of trans-Saharan travel for the purpose of purchasing book manuscripts in the 19th century. More recently, Ould Moulaye El Hassan 2002 has traced one family’s scholarly itinerary from Algeria to Mali and Mauritania. Several collections contain the most recent scholarship on the subject of Saharan scholarly routes (Jeppie and Bachir Diagne 2008, Krätli and Lydon 2011).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Jeppie, Shamil, and Souleymane Bachir Diagne, eds. The Meanings of Timbuktu. Cape Town: HSRC, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A collection of eighteen chapters discussing various aspects of northwestern Africa’s Muslim scholarly networks and history.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Krätli, Graziano, and Ghislaine Lydon, eds. The Trans-Saharan Book Trade: Manuscript Culture, Arabic Literacy, and Intellectual History in Muslim Africa. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In ten chapters, scholars examine the trade in manuscripts and books in northwest Africa carried out by Muslims from the earliest records in the 16th century onward. Attention is paid to questions of geography and markets, scholarship and the core curriculum, and library formation and the paper trade.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Norris, H. T. “Ṣanhājah Scholars of Timbuctoo.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 30.3 (1967): 634–640.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S0041977X00132094Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A discussion of Muslim scholarly networks emanating out and to Timbuktu. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Norris, H. T. The Arab Conquest of the Western Sahara: Studies of the Historical Events, Religious Beliefs and Social Customs Which Made the Remotest Sahara a Part of the Arab World. Harlow, UK: Longman, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          An important reference for understanding the religious and scholarly routes and family ties among Arabs and Berbers in northwestern Africa from the early days of Islam onward. Norris maps out the so-called Arabization of the region along Saharan commercial routes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Ould Moulaye El Hassan, Mehdi. Du Tafilalt au Hodh Chargui: La saga saharienne des awlad Sidi Hammou ben El Haj. Rabat, Morocco: Publications de l’Institut des Études Africaines, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This study follows the migration of a scholarly family from the 17th century to the 19th century between the oases of Tuwat (Algeria), Arawan (Mali), and Walata and Naʿma (Mauritania), based on original archives, including letters exchanged between distant Saharan scholars.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Schmitz, Jean. “L’islam en Afrique de l’Ouest: Les méridiens et les parallèles.” In Special Issue: Afrique noire et monde arabe: Continuités et ruptures. Edited by Emmanuel Grégoire and Jean Schmitz. Autrepart 16 (2000): 117–137.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An original discussion of the pathways of Muslim travelers, traders, pilgrims, and Sufi networks in multiple directions along and across Saharan routes; includes a useful map.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Stewart, Charles. “A New Source on the Book Market in Morocco in 1830 and Islamic Scholarship in West Africa.” Hésperis-Tamuda 11 (1970): 209–246.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Describes a book-buying spree by a prominent Muslim scholar from southwestern Sahara.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Wuld Saʿad, Muḥammad al-Mukhtar. “Masālik al-qawāfil wa dawrihā fī al-tawaṣul al-thaqāfī baīna ṭarfi al-Ṣaḥrā‘ khilāl al-qarn 19.” In Ṭarīq al-qawāfil, 99–120. Algiers, Algeria: Al-Markaz al-Wwaṭanī lil-Buḥūth fī ʿUṣūr mā Qabl al-Tā’rīkh wa ʿIlm al-Insān wa-l-Taʾrīkh, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Based on a close reading of Al-Walātī’s late-19th-century pilgrimage account (Al-Walātī 1990, cited under Accounts by Pilgrims and Other Africans), this article focuses on the pilgrim’s legal and scholarly activities throughout his journey. An earlier version of this article was published in 1991 in the Annales de la Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines (Université de Nouakchott, Mauritanie).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jews and Saharan Trade

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As early as the middle of the 20th century Mauny 1949 recognized the role that Jewish traders played in trans-Saharan trade. Subsequent scholars, such as Abitbol 1981 and Levtzion 1982, examined the participation of Jews in primarily Moroccan commerce. Diadié Haidara 1999 is a more recently published discussion of Jewish traders in the history of Timbuktu, and Bâ 2005 examines more broadly their presence in West African markets. Lydon 2009 (cited under General Overviews) discusses Muslim-Jewish commercial collaborations in the 19th century.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Abitbol, Michel. “Juifs maghrébins et commerce transsaharien du VIIIe au XVe siècle.” In Le sol, la parole, et l’écrit: Mélanges en hommage à Raymond Mauny. Edited by Jean Devisse, 561–577. Paris: Société Française d’Histoire d’Outre-mer, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A study of the roles Moroccan Jews played in trans-Saharan trade until the 15th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Bâ, Idrissa. “La problématique de la présence juive au Sahara et au Soudan d’après Jean Léon l’Africain.” Lagos Historical Review 5 (2005): 146–176.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A reflection on Jewish presence in western Africa based on a critical reading of Leo Africanus’s description of Africa in the mid-16th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Diadié Haidara, Ismaël. Les juifs à Tombouctou: Recueil de sources écrites relatives au commerce juif à Tombouctou au XIXe siècle. Bamako, Mali: Editions Donniya, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An annotated collection of translated records describing commercial activities of Jews in 19th-century Timbuktu.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Levtzion, Nehemia. “The Jews of Sijilmasa and the Saharan Trade.” In Communautés juives des marges sahariennes du Maghreb. Edited by Michel Abitbol, 253–263. Jerusalem: Institut Ben Zvi pour la Recherche sur les Communautés juives d’Orient, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Discusses the involvement in trans-Saharan trade of Jews from the Maghribi terminus of Sijilmasa, and is inconclusive about the Jewish presence in western Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Mauny, Raymond. “Le judaïsme, les juifs du Sahara.” Bulletin de l’IFAN, Série B 11 (1949): 354–378.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mauny was one of the first scholars to recognize the involvement of Jews in trans-Saharan trade, noting especially their knowledge of routes and markets, as demonstrated by the detailed “Catalan Atlas” drawn by a 14th-century Jewish cartographer. He is cautious about their presence in western African markets.

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