The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Tomb of Askia - Mali

Map showing the location of the Tomb of Askia UNESCO world heritage site at Gao, Mali (West Africa)

In Danger since 2012

Website Category: Ancient sub-Saharan Civilisations  

Area: 0.04 km2 

Inscribed: 2004

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 and the official website of the Gao tourism agency.  Thanks to Eileen Burk, Peter Mathews and 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.

Links to other places featuring ancient sub-Saharan civilisations:  Abomey  I  Loropeni  I  Lope-Okanda  I  Asante Buildings  I  Kasubi Tombs  I  Great Zimbabwe  I  Khami Ruins I Mbanza Kongo 

Other Links:     Official UNESCO Site Details

Sticks protruding from the facade of the Tomb of Askia UNESCO world heritage site at Gao (Mali) enable people to climb the facade once every two years to renew the mud-plaster The pyramid-shaped mausoleum of the Tomb of Askia UNESCO world heritage site stands near the banks of the Niger River at Gao (Mali) The Tomb of Askia UNESCO world heritage site at Gao (Mali) is an adobe mud-built structure typical of this part of the Sahel Satellite view of the Mosque and Tomb of Askia UNESCO world heritage site at Gao (Mali), set back from the banks of the Niger River in what is now a densely populated part of the town



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