The Soninke learned to work together with iron and how to use iron tools for farming. They herded cattle for meat and milk. Ghana is located between the Sahara to the north and forests in the south. The location puts them at a great advantage of trading in the region’s two main resources- gold and salt. Ghana salt traders left slabs of salt on a riverbank. In exchange, miners left what they though was a fair amount of gold. Silent bartering was a method made sure that trade was done peacefully.
Ghana’s rulers gained power as trade in salt and gold increased. They built armies equipped with iron weapons. Over time, Ghana took over control of trade from the North African merchants. Wheat, honey, leather, and cloth were also traded in Ghana.
By 800 B.C., Ghana was in control of West Africa’s trade routes. With some much trading passing through Ghana, rulers looked for ways to profit. One was to force every trader to pay a special tax on the good he carried and tax the trader took with him when he left. The people of Ghana also paid taxes.
Ghana’s gold mines brought wealth into the area. Ghana’s kings also kept huge stores of the precious metal for themselves.
This wealth allowed Ghana to grow and support a powerful army who were used to conquer neighboring areas. Ghana’s kings kept order by allowing conquered rulers to retain much of their power where local rulers acted as governors of their territories who answered to the king, Tunka Manin.