It is little known that between the 8th and 15th centuries, before the arrival of Europeans along its golden coast, the Sahara Desert was the engine for global exchange. The gold of West Africa drove prosperity across Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, yet very few archaeological fragments survive. The area’s history and cultural heritage remains largely mysterious. In this online exhibition, which includes two videos, the museum tells the story of medieval Africa—an Africa, according to the scholar Gus Casely-Hayford, “that was outward-looking, that was innovative, that dominated the thinking of the age.” —E.C.
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art 950 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560 Get Directions »