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"By the sixteenth century, some European manufactured goods reached Timbuktu via the trans-Saharan trade, in particular cloth. There are today Arabic manuscripts from the 1500s copied in Timbuktu on paper that originated in the mills of northern France, Germany, or Italy—according to their watermarks. At the heart of Timbuktu's economy until the late 1500s, was the gold trade. From th[e gold trade], Timbuktu gained its fabled reputation in North Africa and Europe. The boom period began in the 1300s, when merchants from Djenné opened a route southward to the periphery of the forest zone, to what is now the Republic of Ghana. The gold, largely in the form of gold dust, was brought to Djenné overland, traded to Timbuktu by river, and there traded to Saharan and North African merchants, in exchange for rock salt but also all manner of other goods in trans-Saharan commerce."