Understanding Ideas



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Chapter 8

Test Form A

Matching


  1. G

  2. J

  3. D

  4. K

  5. L

  6. H

  7. B

  8. C

  9. A

  10. F

Understanding Ideas

  1. A

  2. C

  3. B

  4. A

  5. B

  6. D

  7. B

  8. D

  9. C

  10. A

True/ False:

  1. T

  2. F

  3. T

  4. T

  5. F

Practicing Skills

  1. At Meroe

  2. From North Africa in a generally southern direction into the interior

Composing an Essay

  1. The East African societies developed on the Indian Ocean. In this location they came into contact with Arab and Asian merchants who sailed the ocean conducting business. The merchants were attracted by the Africans’ gold, ivory, and other goods. Many of them settled on the coast, and trade became a major economic activity in this part of Africa. At the same time, Islam became important in East Africa, as these traders spread their faith to their African trading partners.

  2. In West Africa, peoples who lived along the routes that brought salt from the Sahara into the Sahel developed economies that were based on trade. The northern traders wanted gold that was mined further south in West Africa. The West Africans willingly made this exchange because they needed salt to preserve their food. In places where the gold-for-salt exchange took place, cities like Timbuktu developed and became major centers of commerce and trade. At the same time, the West Africans adopted the Islamic faith that the salt merchants brought with them from North Africa.

Test Form B

Short Answer



  1. In matrilineal societies, families are organized around the mother’s relatives. This means that a person would trace his or her ancestry through the mother’s side, and property would pass to children from mothers instead of fathers.



  1. Penetration of the interior on major rivers was blocked by rapids. The harsh Sahara made it difficult for northern traders to reach the interior. Jungle made travel in or through some interior regions difficult.



  1. Christianity began to spread after King Ezana of Aksum converted and made it the kingdom’s official religion around A.D. 350. Islam was spread in East and West Africa by Arab, Persian and other Muslim traders.



  1. Great Zimbabwe was a major African fort and trading center on the Indian Ocean in East Africa in the 1300s and 1400s. Timbuktu was a major commercial city and cultural center in West Africa during the same period of time, and was also a leading center of Islamic learning.



  1. He made a pilgrimage form his kingdom of Mali to Mecca, the Islamic holy city in Arabia. The size and dress of his group and the gold they carried, showed others that a great and wealthy civilization existed in West Africa. His development of Timbuktu into a major learning center also made this point.

Primary Sources

  1. The agents are trading with the natives for their gold.



  1. That they do not speak the same language.

Composing an Essay

1 . Gold was important in East and West Africa, as well as in the early African kingdoms along the Red Sea, chiefly as a natural resource that was mined and traded for other items that they needed or desired to improve their quality of life. For example, Aksum traded gold along with other regional resources, such as ivory and rhinoceros horns, to Mediterranean countries for products like glass, pottery, and olive oil. Later, East African city-states along the Indian Ocean – like Great Zimbabwe, Mogadishu and Kilwa – found that they could trade their gold and other natural resources to Arab and Asian merchants who sailed in the region, to obtain tools and cloth, as well as salt to preserve their food. In West Africa, people of the Sahel, who lived in kingdoms such as Ghana, Mali and Songhai, prospered by trading gold mined by others further south, with Islamic traders who brought salt mined in north across the Sahara. Gold had some limited intrinsic cultural and ornamental value in these civilizations, but its main use in each region was a medium of exchange.



2. Since the societies in each region were built on trade, the loss of control over trade would have been an important factor in their decline. For example, Kush declined after Aksum gained control of its trade routes, and Aksum declined when it lost control of its trade routes to the Arabs from across the Red Sea. In West Africa, a similar situation occurred with Ghana, when neighboring peoples took over the salt trade. In some cases, another reason for decline may have been the society’s depletion of its natural resources. Kush’s decline may have occurred when the fertility of its land was exhausted. Great Zimbabwe’s collapse may have been due to its population exhausting its food and water supply. But by far the most common factor behind the fall of these civilizations was conquest by a rival or neighbor. Kush ceased to exist when Aksum conquered it. Ghana fell to the people who created Mali; Mali fell to the people who created Songhai; and Songhai was ended by an invasion of Moroccans.

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