Sijilmassa in the Maghreb was one of the richest and most important trading cities the at the end of the silk road. When the Marinid emir, Abu Yusef, laid siege to the city in 1274 it is possible that he used cannons that "discharged small pieces of iron" by means of a "burning powder" according to the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun. If so, then this is the first documented use of gunpowder in the west. The use of gunpowder as a weapon probably came along the silk route all the way from China.
The blog on Eye On Spain is about the Berber empires of North Africa in the early second millennium. Thirty percent of the gold used in the coins of the countries around the Mediterranean was brought by camel from mines in West Africa. The gold was traded for salt, which was very scarce in West Africa. A block of salt from Tunis could easily double in value when it arrived in Timbuktu, and when sold on from there could actually be worth its weight in gold. The gold mines are shaded gold.
If you are a new visitor I would like to welcome you. This website is about the history of Spain, but just the bare facts can be very dull, so wherever I can, I show the fictional books and artwork that tells the personal story of those who made history. I am going to move the reference books to page 28, but keep the fiction books on their relevant epochs or page. That way I can use the blog for news or information. Anyway, for now, please read on, and I hope that you enjoy the story.