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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Discovery of the earliest royal palace in Gao and its implications for the history of West Africa
Authors:Takezawa, Shoichiro
Cisse, Mamadou
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines (ISSN 0008-0055)
Geographic term:Mali
urban history
Abstract:The history of Gao, located at the confluence of the Niger River and the Tilemsi Valley (Mali), has been reconstructed mainly on the basis of the two Tarikhs of Timbuktu. The early days of Gao, however, which were not described conscientiously in these Tarikhs, have been subjected to polemics in many respects. The authors' excavations at the archaeological sites of Gao Saney and Gao city since 2001 have provided new data that offer an original approach for rewriting the early history of Gao. According to these data, the archaeological site of Gao Saney was occupied by a population including merchants and manufacturers from North Africa from the eighth to the tenth centuries, rather than the commonly accepted date of the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, inferred from the epitaphs of the neighbouring cemetery. The excavations have also uncovered large buildings made completely of stone in Gao city, known as Gao-Ancient. The authors consider these as constituting a royal residence protected by a big castle, constructed at the beginning of the tenth century only to be abandoned toward the end of the same century. The excavations have thus confirmed, for the first time, the very existence of the twin cities of Gao, mentioned by Arabic writers of the tenth and eleventh centuries. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]