Website Category: Ancient sub-Saharan Civilisations
Area: 0.04 km2
Criteria: (ii) interchange of values (iii) cultural tradition (iv) icon of an era
Location and Values: The Tomb of Askia is located close to the banks of the mighty Niger River in the town of Gao, Mali. It is a 17 metre-high pyramidal structure, built in 1495 using the traditional mud-based construction techniques typical of this part of the Sahel. Gao was once the capital of the mighty Songhai empire, which controlled a vast area of west Africa during the 15th and 16th centuries through its control of the lucrative trans Sahara trade in gold and salt. The Tomb of Askia symbolises this important phase of West African history.
Slideshow of the Tomb of Askia: None of our team has visited the Tomb of Askia, but we have assembled a short slideshow of images from contributors to flickr.com and the official website of the Gao tourism agency. Thanks to Eileen Burk, Peter Mathews and visitgaomali.com for these valuable photos (each individually credited in the watermark!). Various perspectives of the fifteenth-century mausoleum at the centre of the compound are shown, as well as other buildings in the precinct of the Tomb. Further afield, to provide some context to the pictures of the tomb, are photos of natural slabs of salt for sale in the local market, some of the camels that still traverse this part of the Sahara Desert carrying salt as a key item of trade, and some of the spectacular Sahara Desert dunes and scenery along the banks of the mighty Niger River just outside town.
Slideshow of the Tomb of Askia:
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of the Tomb of Askia on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing. In this view you can see the Tomb in its concrete-walled compound, set back from the river and surrounded by other urban developments.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details