Tomb of Askia (2004)
Mali

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The dramatic 17-m pyramidal structure of the Tomb of Askia was built by Askia Mohamed, the Emperor of Songhai, in 1495 in his capital Gao. It bears testimony to the power and riches of the Empire that flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries through its control of the trans Saharan trade, notably in salt and gold. 

Mali 1974. River Niger in the Gao Area. The Tomb of Askia is located in the neighbourhood of the peak in the background.

It is also a fine example of the monumental mud-building traditions of the West African Sahel. 

The complex, including the pyramidal tomb, two flat roofed mosque buildings, the mosque cemetery, and the open air assembly ground, was built when Gao became the capital of the Songhai Empire and after Askia Mohamed had returned from Mecca and made Islam the official religion of the Empire.

  • Mali 1974. River Niger in the Gao Area. The Tomb of Askia is located in the neighbourhood of the peak in the background. 

In its justification for inscription the UNESCO states that the Tomb of Askia reflects the way local building traditions in response to Islamic needs absorbed influences from North Africa to create a unique architectural style across the West African sahel. The Tomb of Askia is an important vestige of the Empire of Songhai, which once dominated the sahel lands of West Africa and controlled the lucrative trans-Saharan trade. The Tomb of Askia reflects the distinctive architectural tradition of the West African sahel and in particular exemplifies the way buildings evolve over centuries through regular, traditional, maintenance practices. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage sites in Mali (on this web site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Mali Section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 20 jul 2006  
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