Source: Discovery of the earliest royal palace in Gao and its implications for the history of West Africa (Open Edition Journals) 2012 A.D.
From the Discovery source, “The history of Gao has been reconstructed mainly on the basis of the two Tarikhs of Timbuktu. The early days of Gao, however, which were not described conscientiously in these Tarikhs, have been subjected to polemics in many respects. Our excavations in the archaeological sites of Gao Saney and Gao city since 2001 have provided new data that offer an original approach for rewriting the early history of Gao. According to these data, the archaeological site of Gao Saney was occupied by a population including merchants and manufacturers from North Africa from the eighth to the tenth centuries, rather than the commonly accepted date of the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, inferred from the epitaphs of the neighboring cemetery. Our excavations have also uncovered large buildings made completely of stone in Gao city, known as Gao-Ancient. We consider these as constituting a royal residence protected by a big castle, constructed at the beginning of the tenth century only to be abandoned toward the end of the same century. Our excavations have thus confirmed, for the first time, the very existence of the twin cities of Gao, mentioned by Arabic writers of the tenth and eleventh centuries…Located at the confluence of the Niger River and the Tilemsi Valley below the Ahaggar Mountains via the Adrar of Iforas, Gao was one of the oldest and most important commercial centers in West Africa. Since the beginning of the first millennium bc, Gao was linked with North African coastal cities by the “route des chariots” that Henri Lhote (1958: 24-25) reconstituted from the rock paintings dispersed in the mountains of the central Sahara….
There are also diverse opinions on the beginning of the trans-Saharan trade in which Gao was involved (Fig. 2). Given the scarce information provided by the early Arab writers, some consider that the trans-Saharan trade cannot have intensified until the tenth century (Devisse 1972: 49-50). Others say that this view should be revised, to take account of the Ibādī documents that affirm the existence of communication between North Africa and Gao from the second half of the eighth century6 (Lewicki 1961; Hunwick 1985: 6, 1994: 257)…The most outstanding feature of the Gao Saney tell is the overwhelming influence of North African civilization. In fact, our 15 m2 excavation produced 388 beads, including 243 glass beads, an exceptional number in terms of archeological surveys carried out in West Africa. The Jenné-Jeno excavations could find only several dozen of glass beads in total (McIntosh & McIntosh 1980: 164; McIntosh 1995: 250), and the Kumbi Saleh excavation of 130 m2 found 220 glass beads (Berthier 1997: 91). As it is generally accepted that glass was not manufactured in sub-Saharan Africa, this assemblage of glass beads places Gao Saney as one of the most important centers of trans-Saharan trade in West Africa from the eighth to the tenth centuries…Moreover, the use of rectangular mud bricks is not only exceptional, but also the earliest in West Africa16. Also exceptional are earthen lamps of the same shape as those used in North Africa, sophisticated spindle whorls that are among the earliest in West Africa17, and the high and exceptional percentage of bottles among the pottery found at this site. All these peculiarities suggest that the main inhabitants of Gao Saney would have been merchant-manufacturers from North Africa who would have coexisted with the local population, as suggested by the divers forms and techniques of pottery…Our excavations suggest also a high probability for the existence of a colony of North African merchants and manufacturers in this place…A large quantity of glass beads, copper ingots, iron goods and iron slag, and miscellaneous earthenware including crucibles, spindle whorls and earthen lamps, all demonstrate the intensity of the trans-Saharan traffics and manufacturing activities in Gao Saney. If this place was inhabited by the merchant-manufacturers of North African origin as early as the eighth century, as we believe, the trans-Saharan trade must have existed in considerable intensity in this century32. To identify the main items exported from Gao is beyond the scope of this article. But gold and hippopotamus ivories shipped by the Sorko, a riverine branch of the Songhay, would have constituted an important part of the products exported to North Africa. Situated at the confluence of the Niger River and Tillemsi Valley and in the contact zone between the Sahara and the savannah, Gao must have been a privileged target for both foreign merchants and the local populations who wanted to engage themselves in the world-wide economy via North Africa…”
These sources reinforce the idea that West Africa and the northern regions of Africa have long been connected. This should help one to conceptualize that people were travelling from West Africa to the northern regions of Africa and from the northern regions of Africa to the western regions of Africa sense ancient times. This is important because this should help one to understand that it is entirely possible for Jews to travel from the northern regions of Africa to the western most regions of Africa from ancient times through the medieval epoch.
This source completely dispels myths that West Africa and the Northern regions of Africa were not connected. There is no “artificial” barrier between “Sub-Saharan” Africa and “North Africa”. Africa is Africa.