timbuktu manuscripts


Timbuktu, Mali 

Timbuktu is a city in West Africa. It was a center of Islamic scholarship under several African empires, home to a 25,000-student university’s and other schools that served as wellsprings for the spread of Islam throughout Africa from the 13th to 16th centuries. Sacred Muslim texts, in bound editions, were carried great distances to Timbuktu for the use of eminent scholars from Cairo, Baghdad, Persia, and elsewhere who were in residence at the city. The great teachings of Islam, from astronomy and mathematics to medicine and law, were collected and produced here in several hundred thousand manuscripts. 


Timbuktu was a center of the manuscript trade, with traders bringing Islamic texts from all over the Muslim world. Despite occupations and invasions of all kinds since then, scholars managed to preserve and even restore hundreds of thousands of manuscripts dating from the 13th century.

But that changed when militant Islamists backed by al-Qaida arrived in 2012.

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the story of librarian Abdel Kader Haidara, who organized and oversaw a secret plot to smuggle hundreds of thousands of medieval manuscripts out of Timbuktu before they could be destroyed by Islamist rebels.  

Hear author Joshua Hammer tell the story here.

– Petra

The Manuscripts of Timbuktu.

For centuries it has been taught that Africa & Africans had no written history, literature or philosophy (claiming Egypt was other than African). In this picture we see 1 MILLION manuscripts that were found in the many Libraries of Timbuktu/Mali covering , according to Reuters “all the fields of human knowledge: law, the sciences, medicine,”. Some of the Manuscripts date back to the 13th Century.

This is but one example of written word in Africa which is the most culturally and ethnically diverse continent on the planet.

The Timbuktu Manuscripts showing both mathematics and astronomy
Timbuktu Manuscripts or (Tombouctou Manuscripts) is a blanket term for the large number of historically important manuscripts that have been preserved for centuries in private households in Timbuktu, Mali. The collections include manuscripts about art, medicine, philosophy, and science of the late Abbasid Caliphate, as well as priceless copies of the Quran. The number of manuscripts in the collections has been estimated as high as 700,000.