Tomb of Askia

Tehran Times - - HERITAGE & TOURISM -

A World Her­itage, the Tomb of Askia is lo­cated in the town of Gao, Mali.

The site com­prises the fol­low­ing el­e­ments: the pyra­mi­dal tower, the two flat-roofed mosques, the necrop­o­lis and the white stone square. The spec­tac­u­lar pyra­mi­dal struc­ture was built by Askia Mo­hamed, Em­peror of the Song­hai Em­pire in 1495. The Tomb of Askia was built when Gao be­came the cap­i­tal of the Em­pire and Is­lam was adopted as the of­fi­cial re­li­gion.

The Tomb of Askia is a mag­nif­i­cent ex­am­ple of how the lo­cal tra­di­tions have adapted to the ex­i­gences of Is­lam in cre­at­ing an ar­chi­tec­tural struc­ture unique across the West African Sa­hel.

The Tomb is the most im­por­tant and best con­served ves­tige of the pow­er­ful and rich Song­hai Em­pire that ex­tended through West Africa in the 15th and 16th cen­turies.

Its value is also in­vested in its ar­chi­tec­tural tomb/ minaret shape, its prayer rooms, its ceme­tery and its assem­bly space that have sur­vived and are still in use. From the ar­chi­tec­tural per­spec­tive, the Tomb of Askia is an em­i­nent ex­am­ple of Su­dano-Sa­he­lian style, char­ac­ter­ized by rounded forms re­sult­ing in the reg­u­lar re­newal of the layer of plas­ter eroded each win­ter by the rare but vi­o­lent rains.

The pyra­mi­dal form of the tomb, its func­tion as cen­tral minaret as well as the length and shape of the pieces of wood com­pris­ing the per­ma­nent scaf­fold­ing, give the Tomb of Askia its dis­tinc­tive and unique ar­chi­tec­tural char­ac­ter­is­tics.

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