Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa at the Block Museum of Art was a cultural tour de force, showcasing more than 250 objects that reframed how visitors look at objects globally from the eighth through the sixteenth centuries and places Africa at the center rather than the peripheries of history and economics. Caravans sought to retool the popular stereotypical historical metanarrative of “medieval” that conjures images of knights at round tables, famines, or a European Renaissance in the making. Juxtaposing archaeological fragments alongside astonishing intact artworks sourced from West and North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, this exhibition told a story of a global network of exchange that coincided with the spread of Islam, rather than Christianity, and was driven by gold, salt,...

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