West Africa 500 CE

The trans-Saharan trade had become well-established by 200 BCE at the latest. However, it remained small-scale for several centuries, with goods being carried from one oasis to another by different Berber groups. All ...

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What is happening in West Africa in 500CE

The trans-Saharan trade had become well-established by 200 BCE at the latest. However, it remained small-scale for several centuries, with goods being carried from one oasis to another by different Berber groups. All this changed when camels came into regular use on the route. These large animals are superbly adapted for desert environments, and their use enabled the trans-Saharan trade to expand enormously. This set in train a competition for control of the southern sectors of the trade routes, which in turn stimulated the emergence of large chiefdoms. Importing horses from the north, some chiefs were able to form cavalry forces and so dominate surrounding villages more easily. Kingdoms are in the process of being formed.

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