Be that as it may, it is widely accepted that the Loropeni was connected to the Trans-Saharan gold trade that lasted from the 7 th to the 17 th centuries AD. The lands of Sub-Saharan Africa were rich in gold and this precious metal was sought after by the rulers of the states around the Mediterranean. Salt was exchanged for this gold and the trade between Sub-Saharan Africa and Mediterranean brought great wealth to those along its trade route. Consequently, the region saw the flourishing of a network of settlements as well as the rise of several powerful states during that period. The 7 th century, for instance, saw the rise of the Ghana Empire while the Mali Empire came to power during the 13 th century.
The Mysterious Ruins of Loropeni
The excellent state of preservation of the ruins is evident in the laterite stone perimeter wall, which is quadrangular in shape and encloses an area of 2.5 acres. In parts of the circuit, the walls reach a height of 6 m (20 feet) and have a thickness of 1.2 m (4 feet). Within the falls, however, are the remains of an abandoned settlement. As not much archaeological work has been carried out at the site, little is known about the people who once lived there.
Valuable Information Untapped
It is expected that archaeological work that may be carried out at the site in the future would provide valuable information about the settlement’s history and the people who lived there. Another major concern regarding the site is its preservation. Despite its excellent state of preservation, it is currently threatened by the forces of nature. The walls, being exposed, are most at risk. For instance, tropical rains and rough winds are causing erosion, weakening the structure of the walls, while the activities of burrowing animals are weakening their foundations.
The urgency of the situation has led to measures being taken to safeguard the ruins of Loropeni. As an example, the area surrounding the site has been designated as a buffer zone, to prevent agricultural encroachment as well as to protect the site from bush fires. The latter, which occurs frequently during the dry season, coupled with the rising damp during the rainy season, has caused the loss of much of the stone cover on the lower courses of the walls. A conservation plan has also been developed, which aims not only to minimize damage to the ruins but also to stimulate economic development in and around the wider Loropeni area.