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Oualata
Oualata
or Walata (Arabic: ولاته‎) (also Biru in 17th century chronicles)[2] is a small oasis town in southeast Mauritania, located at the eastern end of the Aoukar
Aoukar
basin. Oualata
Oualata
was important as a caravan city in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as the southern terminus of a trans-Saharan trade route and now it is a World Heritage Site.

Contents

1 History 2 See also 3 Oualata
Oualata
images 4 Notes 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

History[edit] Oualata
Oualata
is believed to have been first settled by an agro-pastoral people akin to the Mandé
Mandé
Soninke people
Soninke people
who lived along the rocky promontories of the Tichitt- Oualata
Oualata
and Tagant cliffs of Mauritania facing the Aoukar
Aoukar
basin. There, they built what are among the oldest stone settlements on the African continent.[3] The town formed part of the Ghana Empire
Ghana Empire
and grew wealthy through trade. At the beginning of the thirteenth century Oualata
Oualata
replaced Aoudaghost
Aoudaghost
as the principal southern terminus of the trans-Saharan trade and developed into an important commercial and religious centre.[4] By the fourteenth century the city had become part of the Mali Empire. An important trans-Saharan route began at Sijilmasa
Sijilmasa
and passed through Taghaza
Taghaza
with its salt mines and ended at Oualata. Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
found the inhabitants of Oualata
Oualata
were Muslim and mainly Massufa, a section of the Sanhaja. He was surprised by the great respect and independence that women enjoyed. He only gives a brief description of the town itself: "My stay at Iwalatan (Oualata) lasted about fifty days; and I was shown honour and entertained by its inhabitants. It is an excessively hot place, and boasts a few small date-palms, in the shade of which they sow watermelons. Its water comes from underground waterbeds at that point, and there is plenty of mutton to be had."[5] Timothy Cleaveland's contends, "Ibn Battuta’s account leaves no doubt that the town was still dominated by ‘black’ Mande-speaking peoples."[6] The town's original Mande name Biru had already shifted to the Berber Iwalatan, a reflection of the changing identity of the residents. This would change again with the town's Arabization, and the development of the current name, Walata.[7] From the second half of the fourteenth century Timbuktu
Timbuktu
gradually replaced Oualata
Oualata
as the southern terminus of the trans-Sahara route and Oualata
Oualata
declined in importance.[8][9] The Berber diplomat, traveller and author, Leo Africanus, who visited the region in 1509-1510 gives a description in his book Descrittione dell’Africa: "Walata Kingdom: This is a small kingdom, and of mediocre condition compared to the other kingdoms of the blacks. In fact, the only inhabited places are three large villages and some huts spread about among the palm groves."[10][11] The old town covers an area of about 600 m by 300 m, some of it now in ruins.[12] The sandstone buildings are coated with banco and some are decorated with geometric designs. The mosque now lies on the eastern edge of the town but in earlier times may have been surrounded by other buildings. The French historian, Raymond Mauny, estimated that in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
the town would have accommodated between 2000 and 3000 inhabitants.[12] Today, Oualata
Oualata
is home to a manuscript museum, and is known for its highly decorative vernacular architecture. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
in 1996 together with Ouadane, Chinguetti
Chinguetti
and Tichitt.[13] See also[edit]

En attendant les hommes, 2007 documentary film about women muralists in Oualata.

Oualata
Oualata
images[edit]

Oualata
Oualata
Decorative Entrance

Oualata
Oualata
Mosque

Oualata
Oualata
Decorative Window

Oualata
Oualata
Decorative Secondary Entrance

Oualata
Oualata
Decorative Secondary Entrance

Oualata
Oualata
Decorative Main Entrance

View of Oualata
Oualata
1

View of Oualata
Oualata
2

View of Oualata
Oualata
3

View of Oualata
Oualata
4

Notes[edit]

^ Résultats du RGPH 2000 des Wilayas, archived from the original on 2012-07-18  ^ Hunwick 1999, p. 9 n4. Walata is the arabized form of the Manding wala meaning a "shady place" while Biru is the Soninke word and has a similar meaning. ^ Holl 2009. ^ Levtzion 1973, p. 147. ^ Gibb 1929, p. 320. ^ Cleaveland 2002, p. 53. ^ Cleaveland 2002, p. 37. ^ Levtzion 1973, p. 80, 158. ^ Mauny 1961, p. 432. ^ Hunwick 1999, p. 275. ^ Today there is a deserted settlement called Tizert at a distance of 5 km from the town. ^ a b Mauny 1961, p. 485. ^ "Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt
Tichitt
and Oualata". UNESCO: World Heritage Convention. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 

References[edit]

Gibb, H.A.R. translator and editor (1929), Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354, London: Routledge CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) . Extracts are available here. Holl, Augustin F.C. (2009), "Coping with uncertainty: Neolithic life in the Dhar Tichitt-Walata, Mauritania, (ca. 4000–2300 BP)", Comptes Rendus Geoscience, 341: 703–712, doi:10.1016/j.crte.2009.04.005 . Hunwick, John O. (1999), Timbuktu
Timbuktu
and the Songhay Empire: Al-Sadi's Tarikh al-Sudan down to 1613 and other contemporary documents, Leiden: Brill, ISBN 90-04-11207-3 . Levtzion, Nehemia (1973), Ancient Ghana and Mali, London: Methuen, ISBN 0-8419-0431-6 . Levtzion, Nehemia; Hopkins, John F.P., eds. (2000) [1981], Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West Africa, New York, NY: Marcus Weiner Press, ISBN 1-55876-241-8 . Mauny, Raymond (1961), Tableau géographique de l'ouest africain au moyen age, d’après les sources écrites, la tradition et l'archéologie (in French), Dakar: Institut français d'Afrique Noire .

Further reading[edit]

Mauny, Raymond (1971), "The Western Sudan", in Shinnie, Peter L., The African Iron Age, Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, pp. 66–87, ISBN 0-19-813158-5 . Monteil, Charles (1953), "La Légende du Ouagadou et l'Origine des Soninké", Mélanges Ethnologiques, Mémoires de l’Institut Francais de l’Afrique Noir 23, Dakar, pp. 360–408 . Norris, H.T. (1993), "Mūrītāniyā", Encyclopaedia of Islam. Volume VII (2nd ed.), Leiden: Brill, p. 625, ISBN 90-04-09419-9 

External links[edit]

Map showing Oualata: Fond Typographique 1:200,000, République Islamique de Mauritanie Sheet NE-29-XI .

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Oualata.

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Communes of Mauritania

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Urban Agricultural

Adel Bagrou Aere Mbar Aghchorguitt Ain Ehel Taya Aioun Ajar Aleg Amourj Aoueinat Zbel Aoujeft Arr Atar Azgueilem Tiyab Bababé Bagrou Barkeol Bassiknou Bethet Meit Boghé Bokkol Bou Lahrath Bougadoum Bouheida Bouhdida Boulenoir Bouly Boumdeid Bousteila Boutilimitt Cheggar Chinguitti Dafor Daghveg Dar El Barka Dionaba Djeol Djiguenni El Ghabra El Ghaire Fassala Foum Gleita Ghabou Gouraye Gueller Guerou Hamod Hassichegar Jidr-El Mouhguen Kaédi Kamour Kankossa Keur-Macene Kobeni Koumbi Saleh Lahraj Legrane Leouossy Lexelba Maghama Magta-Lahjar Male Mbagne Mbalal Mbout Mederdra Monguel Moudjeria Nbeika Ndiago Néma Niabina Noual Ouad Naga Ouadane Oualata Oueid Jrid Ould Yenge Rdheidhi R' Kiz Sangrave Sélibaby Soudoud Tachott Tamchekett Tawaz Tékane Tichit Tidjikja Tiguent Timbedra Timzinn Tintane Touil Tufunde Cive Wahatt Woumpou

Rural Agricultural

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