Although excluded from Abu-Lughod’s description of the medieval world system, West Africa nevertheless played a central role in this economic network via the trans-Saharan routes linking the Mediterranean with Africa south of the Sahara. In the thirteenth century, these links were extended and strengthened under the Empire of Mali, which structured trade between trans-Saharan entrepôts and the Savannah regions where prized African elephants thrived. The carved ivories produced in contemporary Europe would not have been possible without these networks, which also supplied local communities with the materials they themselves prized, some of which were regional products, some of which were imported from northwestern Europe. In particular, works of art produced at the Savannah-Forest interface in modern Nigeria demonstrate sub-Saharan Africa’s connection to the world system in the years around 1300.
Guérin, Sarah M.
"Exchange of Sacrifices: West Africa in the Medieval World of Goods,"
The Medieval Globe: Vol. 3:
2, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/tmg/vol3/iss2/6