Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft



Öffentlicher Vortrag Dr. Sam Nixon, University College London: The Gold Route to Timbuktu

The Gold Route to Timbuktu: tracing medieval trans-Saharan camel caravan networks from Morocco to Mali

In 2013 Timbuktu was thrust into the international spotlight as reports circulated in the media describing how Islamic fundamentalists were destroying priceless manuscript collections stored in mosques and libraries throughout the town, many dating back to the medieval period. This event sparked an international outrage, but also a surge in interest to learn more about the mysterious southern Saharan town of Timbuktu and the wider history it formed a part of. Within this lecture Dr Sam Nixon explores the development of the medieval-era camel caravan trade across the Sahara which gave rise to Timbuktu, a commerce fuelled by the riches of West African gold and part of a wider global trade network stretching as far as the Central Asian Silk Road. Alongside a broad overview of this topic, Dr Nixon also introduces his own archaeological excavations along the medieval trans-Saharan camel-caravan routes, both at the market town of Tadmekka in Mali, and the oasis and silver mining centre of Tamdult in southern Morocco.

Biography of Dr. Sam Nixon:

Dr Sam Nixon is a historical archaeologist whose work explores early global trade and exchange networks, with a focus on the medieval and early-modern camel caravan routes spanning the Sahara. He is currently a Research Fellow at University College London, where he is writing a new book entitled The Gold Route: a history of the trans-Saharan world from pre-Roman times to the era of Timbuktu (London: Thames & Hudson). He is also currently a visiting researcher in Tubingen, taking part in the DFG (Germany Research Foundation) Center for Advanced Studies programme ‘Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages’.