The Empire of ancient Ghana
The empire of ancient Ghana created by the Mende (Soninke) with human habitation dating back to at least around 4,000 BC.
Ancient Ghana was located in what is now southeastern Mauritania and western Mali.
Today the area around Dar Tichitt in southern Mauritania has been the subject of much archaeological attention, revealing successive layers of settlement near what still were small lakes as late as 1200 BCE. At this time people there built circular compounds, 60-100 feet in diameter, near the beaches of the lakes. (‘Compound’ is the name given to a housing type, still common today, in which several members of related families share space within a wall.) These compounds were arranged into large villages located about 12 miles from each other. Inhabitants fished, herded cattle and planted some millet, which they stored in pottery vessels. This was the last era of reasonable moisture in this part of the Sahara. By 1000 BCE the villages, still made up of compounds, had been relocated to hilltop positions, and were walled. Cattle were still herded, more millet was grown, but there were no more lakes for fishing. From 700-300 BCE the villages decreased in size and farming was reduced at the expense of pastoralism.
Architecturally, the villages of Dar Tichitt resemble those of the modern northern Mande (Soninke), who live in the savanna 300-400 miles to the south. These ancient villagers were not only farmers, but were engaged in trade connected with the salt and copper mines which developed to the north. Horse drawn vehicles passed through the Tichitt valley, bringing trading opportunities, ideas, and opening up the inhabitants to raids from their more nomadic northern neighbors. Development of the social and political organization necessary to handle commerce and defense must have been a factor in the subsequent development of Ghana, the first great Sudanic empire, in this part of West Africa.
It is very plausible to think that the people of antiquity in Ancient Ghana may be connected to the Ancient peoples who lived in the Sahara before it turned into dessert. Additionally Habitation of the region where the Ghana empire existed is much older than Western academics are aware of.