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Cover for Sahel


Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara

Alisa LaGamma


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A comprehensive exploration, spanning 1,300 years, of the art and culture of the Sahel region of Africa

This groundbreaking volume examines the extraordinary artistic and cultural traditions of the African region known as the Sahel (“shore” in Arabic), a vast area on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert that includes present-day Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad. This is the first book to present a comprehensive overview of the diverse cultural achievements and traditions of the region, spanning more than 1,300 years from the pre-Islamic period through the 19th century. It features some of the earliest extant art from Africa as well as such iconic works as sculptures by the Dogon and Bamana peoples of Mali. Essays by leading international scholars discuss the art, architecture, archaeology, literature, philosophy, religion, and history of the Sahel, exploring the unique cultural landscape in which these ancient communities flourished. Richly illustrated and brilliantly argued, Sahel brings to life the enduring creativity of the different peoples who lived, traded, and traveled through this crossroads of the world.

Praise For Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara

"The book contains numerous beautiful color illustrations and maps that represent and relate to objects associated with these themes, underscoring how contemporary conflict in the region relates to the Sahelian past."—E.P. Renne, Choice

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 9781588396877, 304pp.

Publication Date: February 18, 2020

About the Author

Alisa LaGamma is Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator in Charge in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.