An account of the golden trade of the Moors, and a source book on Saharan trade routes, caravan organization and Sudanese history. The author covers anthropology and economic geography as well as history, as he examines and explores the hot little towns, sharp traders and the brutal rulers. He seeks to encourage and inspire a generation of scholars to discover more about pAn account of the golden trade of the Moors, and a source book on Saharan trade routes, caravan organization and Sudanese history. The author covers anthropology and economic geography as well as history, as he examines and explores the hot little towns, sharp traders and the brutal rulers. He seeks to encourage and inspire a generation of scholars to discover more about parts of Africa still surprisingly little known to the outside world....
|Title||:||The Golden Trade of the Moors: West African Kingdoms in the Fourteenth Century|
|Number of Pages||:||332 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Golden Trade of the Moors: West African Kingdoms in the Fourteenth Century Reviews
Centuries-old Trans-Saharan Trade Sidelined at LastNowadays everyone is a specialist. If you aren't, the chances of getting a book published are slim. And if you are writing a thesis, better be sure to narrow it down, focus on a small piece of the whole pie. Hey, I've told students that myself so I definitely know what I'm talking about. But looking at the big picture is important---more than that---it's why you build up the small snapshots, so ultimately you'll understand the big one. Only we almost never get to it. I really admire books like this, all the more when they are written by amateur historians who plugged away on their own for years. Bovill's fascinating study of the long history of the trans-Sahara trade brings in Greeks, Carthaginians, and Romans, Tuareg and Berbers, Jews, Muslims, Arabs, and finally the Europeans who first traded with the North Africans despite endless religious wars, then tried to find the source of the gold that came across the desert in such abundancy for so many centuries. African empires grew up on this trade, Islamic rulers rose and fell over centuries. We read of Ghana, Mali, Songhai, the Fulani and the Hausa. The Arabs, particularly the Moroccans, had tried to reach the source of the gold for hundreds of year without much success. They even sent an army across the burning sands to attack Timbuktu and Gao (now in northern Mali) in 1590. Piety and scholarship existed in plenty in the lands of the savannas south of the Sahara, but no fabulous cities. Gold passed through the urban centers, making rulers and traders wealthy, but the Mediterranean imagination (both Christian and Muslim) long believed that some kind of El Dorado must lie in Africa. It did not. There were not even centrally-important mines. The gold was gleaned from countless rivers and streams in several widely-scattered areas. When the Europeans, French, German, or British, finally arrived in Timbuktu and other centers, they too felt great disappointment at the rundown nature of their desired goal. Bovill's history includes all this and more.The text is loaded with hundreds of names, mostly unfamiliar to the average reader. There are a number of good maps, however. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but THE GOLDEN TRADE OF THE MOORS is well-written, well-organized and still very useful. What I liked most about this book is that it links West Africa, the Sahara, the North African coast and Europe in a long economic history that came to an end with the development of the shipping that put camel caravans out of business forever. This is a book that looks at the big picture and you can't help but admire it.
In the case of The Golden Trade of the Moors, Bovill’s narrative retrieves and emphasizes the importance of the Sahara from the perspective of outsiders. Bovill constructs a narrative that situates the Sahara at the center of crossing histories; by emphasizing the importance of trade and how vital the Sahara was to other countries, it becomes clear that the Sahara has importance. Bovill has also given a history of a desert that upheld isolation through the trans-Saharan trade where the importance of the Sahara revolves around trade. Bovill does not write the Sahara out of history, but rather, “inverts” the Sahara; Bovill situates the Sahara at the center, but his methodological approach makes the center peripheral—the Sahara itself is not at the forefront of his narrative. So, while everything may work from the outside, the center remains uncontrollable, wild, and unknown. Thus, Bovill manages to position the Sahara at the center of crossing histories, yet makes the Sahara that much harder to penetrate.Bovill analyzes the Sahara as a unit and stresses movement, in terms of trade, across the Sahara as a unifying factor; however, in emphasizing an economic history revolving around trade, the centrality of the Sahara is based on the importance of outsiders and not as a something that stands alone on its own terms. In the first chapters of The Golden Trade of the Moors, Bovill discusses the economic relationship between the Carthaginians and the Romans with the Garamantes (a tribe who occupied an area corresponding to the modern Fezzan). While exploring the carbuncle trade between the Garamantes and the Carthaginians, Bovill notes that no Carthaginian remains have been discovered by archeologists south of Mogador on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, meaning that they did not have a presence in West Africa. There is also an absence of archaeological evidence in the Sahara that could shed light on the Carthaginians’ relationship with the tribes of the interior. The main question in this chapter becomes: where did the carbuncle come from? Bovill then turns to the Hoggar Mountains where the tomb of Tin Hinan was found. Tin Hinan was a woman buried sometime in the fourth-century and in her tomb, excavation discovered a coin of Constantine. Romans never managed to penetrate the Sahara, so how was a Roman coin buried in a tomb in the heart of central Sahara? Through these questions, Bovill hints that there is something going on in the interior of the Sahara. One could logically assume that the people of the Sahara have some degree of organization, yet this theory is not explored within the book. If the isolation of the Sahara were socially constructed it would indicate that the center is “civilized” rather than as savage as previously imagined. Bovill recognizes that there is something happening in the interior, yet does not take a “next step” analysis. Bovill’s methodological approach to the Sahara as an inter-regional history from the outside-in minimizes the incentive to penetrate the center—it is not the focus of his narrative. By utilizing this outside-in view of history, it becomes harder for Bovill to mention the internal relationships of tribes and peoples or the social order of the communities he is exploring. The inner workings of the Sahara are irrelevant to his narrative of an economic history. This view of history focuses on a Saharan center based on its importance to outsiders, not as a center in its own terms, making the inner Sahara hard to characterize. In this scenario, the Sahara itself does not have history outside of trade. If Bovill were to truly situate the Sahara as central to history, it would be problematic to ignore the Saharan people’s perspective. Bovill presents a narrative that takes into consideration a broader, global history, but does not focus on the Sahara or Saharan people as he does West Africa, North Africa, or even Europe. By stressing regions whose economic viability are dependent on the Sahara, Bovill furthers the “isolation” of the Sahara. Bovill allows these parameters to take charge of his analysis. Bovill does not reflect on the sources he has and ends up falling back on those stereotypes, which leaves him liable to critique. By focusing on trade and an “outside-in” history due to lack of insider information, he begins to de-emphasize the importance of the Saharan people to a greater historical context. While Bovill does set the stage of the Sahara by introducing the two chapters that focus people of the Sahara—that is all they are: chapters. Bovill mentions the Haratin, the Tebu, the Berbers, the Tuareg, and more as people of the Sahara, but does not integrate them into a Saharan history. These people are never mentioned in the greater context of Saharan history, yet mercenaries, armies, and gold are integrated into the larger historical narrative. Once the peoples of the Sahara are presented they become points in the landscape and not actors in Saharan history whereas when Bovill writes about those outside of the Sahara, they are considered actors. The Saharan people are left in silence. Furthermore, Bovill tends to have a “European gaze” when he talks about the Sahara and peoples of the Sahara. Bovill can be seen as problematic due to instances throughout the book where the language he uses is arguably very derogatory towards people of the Sahara (much as it was in the Arab sources he used). On many occasions he uses words such as "turbulent, predatory, elusive, and unassailable" and "wild" and "fanatical and deeply superstitious". The connotation of these words conjures up an imagery that sees the Sahara as a land that is desolate, sterile, and “cursed” with uncivilized, bloodthirsty natives. His language furthers the paradoxical outsider relationship with the Sahara that imagines it as both a familiar symbol of the unknown and one that remains uncontrollable.tl;dr Basically, Bovill is using stereotyped sources and falls victim to the parameters that had been set for him. He doesn't critically examine his sources and ends up situating the Sahara at the center of trade/crossing histories, but it doesn't become something that can stand alone. You also get a nice dash of Orientalism here too.
Probably one of the best books on the overall history of the Western Sahara. It is cursory in its dealings with the northern coastal areas; but it is excellent in its coverage of those kingdoms inhabiting the southern areas of the Sahara. The gold trade from Ghana to Morocco and Libya holds the book together; but there is not any discussion of real economics. The focus is a basic history of the Saharan peoples and how they interacted with their environment and each other.
Very readable account of the Western Sahara trade routes over the ages. Last updated 1968 but still provides a wealth of information. I very much enjoyed the author's writing style, not dry but informative.