قوافل من ذهب، شذرات من التاريخ: فن، ثقافة، وتبادل عبر الصحراء الكبرى خلال القرون الوسطىJourney to a medieval world with Africa at its center.
Travel with the Block Museum along routes crossing the Sahara Desert to a time when West African gold fueled expansive trade and drove the movement of people, culture, and religious beliefs.
Caravans of Gold is the first major exhibition addressing the scope of Saharan trade and the shared history of West Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe from the eighth to sixteenth centuries. Weaving stories about interconnected histories, the exhibition showcases the objects and ideas that connected at the crossroads of the medieval Sahara and celebrates West Africa’s historic and underrecognized global significance.
Caravans of Gold draws on recent archaeological discoveries, including rare fragments from major medieval African trading centers like Sijilmasa, Gao, and Tadmekka. These “fragments in time” are seen alongside works of art that invite us to imagine them as they once were. They are the starting point for a new understanding of the medieval past and for seeing the present in a new light.
Presenting more than 250 artworks spanning five centuries and a vast geographic expanse, the exhibition features unprecedented loans from partner institutions in Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria, many of which will be seen in North America for the first time.
The Block Museum exhibition traveled to The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (Sept. 21, 2019 – Feb. 23, 2020) and then to the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute (opened online Nov. 19 2020; open to public July 16, 2021- Feb 27. 2022)
Resource Site: CaravansofGold.org
Here you will find in-depth information about the Caravans of Gold exhibition, including images and information about key objects and artworks from the exhibition, interviews with experts, and resources to support teaching and learning.
Caravans of Gold - Progressive Web App
The Block Museum has released a free mobile web app designed to share the exhibition with national and international audiences. Developed with a team of Northwestern students and the University Libraries, the app makes use of recent developments in mobile technology and the minimal computing movement to make an online version of the exhibition widely accessible.
The app was built to ensure that audiences with limited or intermittent access to network bandwidth and mobile data are able to engage with the exhibition. Presented in English, French, and Arabic, a fully multilingual format offers accessibility to those in the exhibition’s African partner countries and beyond.
The Caravans of Gold App is a project that attempts to take into account differences in digital access and network availability across the world and in the United States.
The app is accessible via web browser on computer desktop and iPhone but is optimized for Android – the primary operating system used on the African continent. Android users visiting the site will be prompted to add the app to their phone home screen. The files are cached on the device so that visitors can view the exhibition works offline.
The Sahara Desert was a thriving crossroads of exchange for West Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe in the medieval period. Fueling this exchange was West African gold, prized for its purity and used for minting currencies and adorning luxury objects such as jewelry, textiles, and religious objects. The publication Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time draws on the latest archaeological discoveries and art historical research to construct a compelling look at
Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa
The Block Museum and Princeton University Press
Hardcover | 2019 | $65.00 | ISBN 9780691182681
304 pp. | 9 x 11 | 192 color illus.
Featuring a wealth of color images, this fascinating book demonstrates how the rootedness of place, culture, and tradition is closely tied to the circulation of people, objects, and ideas. These “fragments in time” offer irrefutable evidence of the key role that Africa played in medieval history and promote a new understanding of the past and the present.
Purchase at The Block Museum or online at www. press.princeton.edu
Virgin and Child
Gold Jewelry Ornaments
Tuareg camel saddle (tarik or tamzak)
Gold Jewelry, Earrings
Page from the "Blue" Qur'an
Manuscript on the stars, the constellations, and the Gregorian calendar
The Uttermost Hope in the Preference of Sincere Intention over Action
Garden of the Useful and Beneficent Mali
A selection of excavated finds from Essouk-Tadmekka, including fragments of glazed ceramics (among which is an oil lamp)
Dinar of al-Mustans ̇ir Billaˉh
Cap with striped inscribed silk
Ring excavated at Sijilmasa, Morocco
Gold jewelry from tumulus 7
Atlas of Maritime Charts (The Catalan Atlas) [detail of Mansa Musa]
Excavations within the Sijilmasa mosque, with exposed walls from the “Filalian” period
Erg Chebbi dunes
Erg Chebbi dunes
A man rides his camel to market in the Agadez region of central Niger
Dromedary camels, loaded with slabs of salt, on caravan route
Caravans of Gold, Fragments of Time is curated by Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Block Museum.
The exhibition has benefitted particularly from the partnership of the following institutions: in Mali, the Direction Nationale du Patrimoine Culturel, Institut des Hautes Études et des
Caravans of Gold, Fragments of Time has been made possible in part by two major planning and implementation grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Caravans of Gold is also generously supported in part by Northwestern University's Buffett Institute for Global Studies. Two anonymous donors have made possible the exhibition’s travel to the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Myers Foundations, the Alumnae of Northwestern University, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the Evanston Arts Council, an agency supported by the City of Evanston. Special thanks to Perucca Family Foundation and the Art Institute of Chicago for curatorial research support.
The related publication is supported in part by Northwestern University's Office for Research, Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, a gift from Liz Warnock to the Department of Art History at Northwestern University, and the Sandra L. Riggs Publications Fund at the Block Museum of Art.
- Illinois Association of Museums, Award for Superior Achievement in Best Practices
- Chicago Tribune, Top Ten Exhibitions of 2019
- Arts Council of the African Studies Association, Award for Curatorial Excellence
- Association of Art Museum Curators, Award for Excellence
- Association of American Publishers, Prose Award Finalist
- Furthermore Grants in Publishing, Shortlist for 2019 Alice Award
- Arts Council of the African Studies Association, Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award