Ancient Wonders of the World Final Draft HIST 111 May 30, 2017Choose a Wonder of the World from the list. Modern Wonder of the World The Great Mosque of

Ancient Wonders of the World Final Draft HIST 111
May 30, 2017Choose a Wonder of the World from the list.

Modern Wonder of the World

The Great Mosque of

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Ancient Wonders of the World Final Draft HIST 111
May 30, 2017Choose a Wonder of the World from the list.

Modern Wonder of the World

The Great Mosque of Djenné
The world is full of wonders – architectural masterpieces that amaze us centuries and millennia after their creations. When the discussion turns to Wonders of the World, most of us conjure images of the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Roman Colosseum, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, and/or Machu Picchu in Peru. However, few of us would add monuments from sub-Saharan Africa to this list. Yet Africa is home to amazing architectural feats. The City of Meroë, the ruins of Jenne-jeno, the Sankore Mosque, and the City of Great Zimbabwe rival their counterparts on other continents. As impressive as these wonders are, they pale in comparison with the Great Mosque of Djenné. The Great Mosque deserves the title of Modern Wonder of the World, because it is the largest mud brick structure in the world, it combines the elements of a traditional Muslim mosque with African motifs, and it brings the people of Djenné together every year for an annual festival.Create an argumentative thesis with informational elements. (2)

Three structures stood in the large market square in the city of Djenné. The 13th century King Koi Konboro built the first mosque after he converted to Islam (Vogel, n.d.). Over the centuries, the original structure deteriorated badly. According to Vogel, residents abandoned it during the early 19th century (Vogel, n.d.). During the 19th century, a new and bigger mosque replaced the original structure. It, too, deteriorated. The French colonial government tapped the Dejenné mason guild to rebuild the third mosque in 1907, which still exists (Dainese, n.d.). When someone refers to the Great Mosque of Djenné, the reference is to the third mosque.State where the wonder is/was located (3a).

While little is known about Konboro’s original mosque, scholars know it was constructed of mud bricks. The masons for the second and third structures also used mud brick as the primary building material, along with palm wood (Vogel, n.d.). The Great Mosque is the largest mud brick structure in the world (Dainese, n.d.). It dwarfs its surroundings. It stands on a raised platform that rises 245 feet in the air on all sides (Fabricius, 2010). The main entrance faces north while the prayer wall faces toward Mecca in the east. Not only is the structure massive, but Fabricius claims it is a model of ecofriendly and sustainable architecture common to the region (Fabricius, 2010). Mud bricks are created by elements abundant in Mali. The structure is made of abobe, which combines sand, clay, water, and a binding organic material like straw or manure (Fabricius, 2010). The sun bakes the adobe into bricks, which are used without mortar. Adobe is also a natural insulator, which cools off interior spaces from the hot West African climate (Fabricius, 2010; Vogel, n.d.). Adobe is perfect for regions where there is enough water to create bricks, but not enough to melt the structure (Vogel, n.d.).Discuss its building materials and how it was built (3e).

The mosque combines traditional Middle Eastern architecture with Sudano-Sahelian elements. Scholars claim it is the greatest example of Sudano-Sahelian architecture (Dainese, n.d.; Vogel, 2009; Fabricius, 2010). Like other Middle Eastern mosques, it has an enclosed prayer hall next to a large courtyard. However, that is where the Middle Eastern influence ends. There are several Sudano-Sahelian elements. First, ceramic caps on its roof open at night to provide fresh air to its interior rooms (Vogel, n.d.). Second, the façade has three minarets and a series of columns that create a rhythmic effect (Dainese, n.d.). Conical extensions with ostrich eggs, the Malian symbol of fertility and purity, top the columns (Dainese, n.d.). Next, there is a special court reserved for women (Dainese, n.d.). The principle entrance has earthen pillars that signal graves for local dignitaries (Dainese, n.d.). Finally, palm wood timbers provide structural support and decorative elements, as well as scaffolds during the structure’s annual re-plastering. Identify its significant features (3d).

A photograph of the Great Mosque of Djenné
Figure 1. (Ihhais, 1907, para. 11).
Adobe architecture requires constant upkeep and repairs to prevent deterioration. In Mali, people come together to preserve the mosque during the annual Crepissage de la Grand Mosquée festival. Beyond preserving the structure, the festival serves as an important cultural event. Thousands of people all over Mali come to re-plaster the mosque (Vogel, n.d.; Jodido, 2009). It is truly a community effort and lasts several days. Dainese describes how it works (Dainese, 2009). They create a plaster from butter and clay from the alluvial soil of the Niger and Bani Rivers. The men mix the plaster and knead it into the walls, while women provide the water. Elders sit on the walls giving advice – all as musicians provide entertainment.Discuss its historical and contemporary significance. (4).

Photography of residents of Djenné restoring the Great Mosque.
Figure 2. (Aga Khan, 2009, para. 1).
Throughout its history, the Great Mosque was the center of religious and social life in Mali (Dainese, n.d.; Jodido, 2009). From its creation to today, Muslim worshippers gather to pray, scholars teach young pupils in its madrasas, and residents shopped in the marketplace adjacent to it (Jodido, 2009). While no ruins still exist for the first two structures, the AKTC Project began a conservation project on the current Great Mosque in 2004 (Jodido, 2009). The conservation project, along with the annual Crepissage festival, preserve its structural integrity (Daines, n.d.; Jodido, 2009; Vogel, n.d.). Preservation of the site is essential, as tourism sustains the local economy. In fact, the 13,000 residents of Djenné only have two sources of revenue: the local marketplace and foreign tourists (Jodido, 2009).Discuss what remains exist, its current condition, and whether it is open to visitors. (3c).
Explain what the original and current purpose of the structure (3b).

A line drawing of restoration efforts at the Great Mosque of Djenné

Figure 3. (Lau, 2011, para. 1).
The Great Mosque is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it should be recognized as a Modern Wonder of the World. It serves as the epicenter of religious and social life in Mali. Its mud brick architecture serves as a model of ecofriendly and sustainable architecture. It uses Middle Eastern mosque layout, but retains its African culture in the design. And its Crepissage festival preserves the building in a collaborative and fun way. Sadly, it would be the only sub-Saharan structure to be designated as a Wonder of the World. While it is the greatest example of Sudano-Sahelian architecture, many of the structures of sub-Saharan Africa deserve to be recognized.

ReferencesFind at least 3 “best” sources in addition to your image sources. (1)

Aga Khan Trust for Culture. (Photographer). (2009). Djenné ferey (traditional mud bricks) manufactured by hand. [digital image]. Retrieved from
Deinese, E. (n.d.). Great Mosque of Djenné. Khan Academy. Retrieved from
Fabricius, C. (2010). The Great Mosque of Djenné: The largest mud brick building on Earth. Scribol. Retrieved from
Ihhais. (Photographer). (1907). Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali [digital image]. Retrieved from
Jodido, P. (Ed.) (2011). Case studies: Mali. The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme: Strategies for Urban Regeneration. Munich, Germany: Prestel, p. 226-229.
Lao, E. (Artist). (2011). Mud Mosque in Djenné, Mali. [digital image]. Retrieved from
Vogel, S. (n.d.). Great Mosque of Djenné. Annenberg Learner. Retrieved from
UNESCO (n.d.). Old towns of Djenné. Retrieved from
Provide a bibliography of your sources in one of the approved formats. (7).

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