Sites & cities that bear the name of Djenné


Today in : Mali
First trace of activity : ca. 11th century C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : ߘߖߋߣߣߋ, Djénné, Jenné

Description : Djenné (Bambara: ߘߖߋߣߣߋ tr. Djenne; also known as Djénné, Jenné and Jenne) is a town and an urban commune in the Inland Niger Delta region of central Mali. The town is the administrative centre of the Djenné Cercle, one of the eight subdivisions of the Mopti Region. The commune includes ten of the surrounding villages and in 2009 had a population of 32,944. The history of Djenné is closely linked with that of Timbuktu. Between the 15th and 17th centuries much of the trans-Saharan trade in goods such as salt, gold, and slaves that moved in and out of Timbuktu passed through Djenné. Both towns became centres of Islamic scholarship. Djenné's prosperity depended on this trade and when the Portuguese established trading posts on the African coast, the importance of the trans-Saharan trade and thus of Djenné declined. The town is famous for its distinctive adobe architecture, most notably the Great Mosque which was built in 1907 on the site of an earlier mosque. To the south of the town is Djenné-Djenno, the site of one of the oldest known towns in sub-Saharan Africa. Djenné together with Djenné-Djeno were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Lying 2.5 km (1.6 mi) south-east of the present town is the archaeological site of Djenné-Djeno or Djoboro. Excavations undertaken by Susan and Roderick McIntosh in 1977 and 1981 indicate that Djenné-Jéno was first settled around 200 BC. It had developed into a large walled urban complex by between 300 and 850 AD, but after 1100 AD the population of the town declined and by 1400 AD the site had been abandoned. Many smaller settlements within a few kilometres of Djenné-Jéno also appear to have been abandoned around this date. Preliminary archaeological excavations at sites within modern Djenné indicate that the present town was first settled after 1000 AD. During the fourteenth century, Timbuktu was the major southern terminus of the trans-Saharan trade in gold, salt and slaves. The first direct mention of Djenné in European sources is in connection with this trade. In a letter written in Latin in 1447 by Antonio Malfante from the Saharan oasis of Tuwat to a merchant in Genoa, Malfante reports on what he had learnt from an informant about the trans-Saharan trade. He lists several 'states' including one called 'Geni' and describes the Niger River "Through these lands flows a very large river, which at certain times of the year inundates all these lands. This river passes by the gates of Thambet . ... There are many boats on it, by which they carry on trade." In the fifteenth century the Portuguese established trading-posts along the Atlantic coast of West Africa in an attempt to tap into the overland trade in gold bullion. It is from Portuguese sources that we learn a little more about the town. Duarte Pacheco Pereira, a sea-captain and explorer, mentions Djenné in his Esmeraldo de situ orbis which he wrote between 1506 and 1508: "...the city of Jany, inhabited by Negroes and surrounded by a stone wall, where there is great wealth of gold; tin and copper are greatly prized there, likewise red and blue cloths and salt ..." The Portuguese historian João de Barros, writing in the 1520s, mentions Djenné and the export of gold from the island of Arguin off the coast of present-day Mauritania: "Genná ... which in former times was more famous than Timbuktu ... As it is further to the west than Timbuktu, it is usually frequented by peoples of its neighbourhood, such as the Çaragoles , Fullos , Jalofos , Azanegues Ṣanhāja, Brabixijs Barābīsh, Tigurarijs , and Luddayas , from whom, through the Castle of Arguim and all that coast, gold came into our hands."

See on map »