Tichitt Civilization

Tichitt Civilization( c. 1900-300 bc) was a civilization in present day Southeast Mauritainia that developed around c. 1900 bc. around the Tichitt and Walata area as far south as the Tagant and Nèma region. The inhabitants were pastoralist and agricultural. As the region became drier and dessicated the inhabitants move further south bringing about the end of the civilization by c. 300 bc. The Soninke is believed to have been the founders of the civilization and the Middle Niger Ghana Empire a continuation of the Tichitt Civilization in examination of settlement which were similiar to Soninke settlements, Soninke origination myth (the Dinga stories) , ceramic craft, and the remaining Soninke population in the Dhar Tichitt region. Dhar Tichitt represent earliest example of urbanizaion in the western sahel/Sudan. 

Historical Events

The region of Dhar Tichit was beginning to show signs of settlement around 2600 bc, its formative years. Elites began building funerary monuments for themselves. By 1900, Early Tichitt (1900-1600) is characterized by the consuming of pearl millet(Pennisetum glaucum). Dry stone architecture also began to be built. By 1600, the civilization had matured and showed classic Tichit elements. One finds streets and fortified compounds of skilled stone masonry, more building of elite funerary monuments. Pearl millet was fully domesticated in c. 1500s. By 1000, the lakes in the region began to decrease in water levels. Small lakes existed surrounded by villages. Round dwellings 60 to 100 feet in diameter were built. The villages were on average 12 miles apart. Later, compounds began to appear on hilltops and fortified. 

Activities (farming, agriculture, trade)

Tichitt engage in the growing of millet. Pearl Millet was domesticated in the region. Cramcram, a famine food, was consumed. Sorghum seemed to have been later consumed. Numerous grinding stones were found in the sites and hoes for tilling the soil. The area also partook in the gathering of wild foodstuff. Lots of nettle tree berries were gathered including meniet and tichitt curcurbitaceae. Wild grains were gathered--ziziphus lotus, celtis sp. Cattle was reared and was featured extensively in rock art engravings. Goats were raised. Antelopes hunted. From the lakes, the fishing of catfish, Nile perch, tilapia occured. Tichitt was involve in long distance trade from the Sahara and Sahel. Stone bracelet and beads made from semi-precious stone was imported. 


The settled areas had similiar settlement pattern of the Manding Soninke. The region of Tichitt and Walata had a combined settlement of 400, made of dry-stone- a combination of hamlets, villages, and towns. Compounds were circular about 60 to 100 feet. The latter settlements were fortified with walls. Others weren't. Streets were laid out connecting the various settlements for hundreds of kilometers and miles. Some villages were built along the coast of lakes but later with more dessication a preference for hillside and fortification occured. From its earliest formation tichitt built elite funerary monuments. 

Work Cited

MacDonald, Kevin. Tichitt-Walata and the Middle Niger: Evidence for Cultural Contact in the second Millenium Bc. Academia.edu

Expansions And Contractions: World-Historical Change And The Western Sudan World-System (1200/1000 B.C.–1200/1250 A.D.)
Journal of World-Systems Research, X,3, Fall 2004, 723-816

tags: gambia , senegal , mauritania