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Tomb of Askia
Site number:
Type of site: Heritage in danger
Date: 1495-16th c.
Date of Inscription: 2004
Location: Africa, Mali, City, Circle and Region of Gao
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Description: Askia Mohamed, the Emperor of Songhai built the dramatic 17-m pyramidal structure of the Tomb of Askia in 1495 in his capital Gao. It testifies to the Empire’s power and riches that prospered through its power over the trans-Saharan trade in the 15th and 16th centuries, markedly in salt and gold. The site is also an exceptional example of the West African Sahel colossal mud-building traditions. Constituting the complex is the pyramidal tomb, two flat roofed mosque buildings, the mosque cemetery, and the open air assembly ground, all of which were constructed when Gao became the Songhai Empire’s capital. This took place after Askia Mohamed returned from Mecca and designated Islam as the Empire’s official religion. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  The Tomb of Askia, in Gao, Mali, is believed to be the burial place of Askia Mohammad I, first Emperor of Songhai. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was built at the end of the fifteenth century. UNESCO describes Askia as a fine example of the monumental mud-building traditions of the West African Sahel. The complex includes the pyramidal tomb, two mosques, a cemetery and an assembly ground. At 17 metres in height it is the largest pre-colonial architectural monument in the region. It is the first example of an Islamic architectural style that later spread throughout the region. Relatively recent modifications to the site have included the expansion of the mosque buildings in the 1960s and mid-1970s, and the 1999 construction of a wall around the site. It has also been regularly replastered throughout its history, a process essential to the maintenance and repair of mud structures. Electricity was added in the early 2000's, allowing for ceiling fans, lights and a loud speaker mounted on top. Askia is in regular use as a mosque and a publicly owned cultural centre for the city of Gao. The site and a buffer area around it are protected by both national and local laws. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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