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North Africa

The Storied City

In 2013, Charlie English, then international news editor of The Guardian, became obsessed with the news coming out of Timbuktu. Jihadists were destroying the city’s religious monuments because they were not properly Islamic and librarians were smuggling medieval books out of the city in order to preserve them from the jihadists. He was not the…

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How the Trans-Saharan Trade Routes Work

In the eighth century CE, after camels were introduced into North Africa, Muslim merchants of North Africa began to organize regular camel caravans across the western Sahara. North African merchants carried luxury goods from across the Islamic world and salt purchased from the desert salt mines to the great trading cities of the Sudan: Timbuktu,…

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On The Shores of Tripoli

In my seventh grade music class, we regularly sang the anthems of the various branches of the United States’ armed services.*  Three days a week, the caissons rolled, bones sank to Davy Jones, planes sailed into the wild blue yonder, and the Marines fought from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.  It…

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