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The Manuscripts & Intellectual Legacy of Timbuktu


Dive Into the Epic Story of Africa's Greatest Written Legacy

"Deep dive into the incredible story behind the rescue of the Timbuktu Manuscripts, threatened to be destroyed by extremists in 2012. https:// #MaliMagic Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara, the librarian known for smuggling the manuscripts out of Timbuktu when their safety was at risk, has said that it was once thought that there was no written history in Africa, only oral tradition - the rediscovery of these 400,000+ pages written by African scholars across 9 centuries represents a true renaissance." from video introduction

Timbuktu manuscripts: Mali's ancient documents captured online

A virtual gallery to showcase Mali's cultural history has been launched, featuring tens of thousands of Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts.

The manuscripts were smuggled to safety from Timbuktu after Islamist militant groups took control of the city in northern Mali in 2012.

They contain centuries of African knowledge and scholarship on topics ranging from maths to astrological charts...

Timbuktu's Ancient Manuscripts
Timbuktu's Ancient Manuscripts

"Central to the heritage of Mali, they represent the long legacy of written knowledge and academic excellence in Africa," said Dr Abdel Kader Haidara, a librarian known for smuggling the manuscripts out of Timbuktu, who was also involved in the project.

The collection, called Mali Magic, also captures Malian culture beyond the manuscripts. It was put together by Google, along with local and international partners.

It features a picture of the dance of the Dogon ethnic group. It also showcases art, such as that of award-winning Abdoulaye Konaté, and an image of builders plastering the Great Mosque of Djenné, a Unesco world heritage site about 500km (310 miles) south of Timbuktu.." from the article: Timbuktu manuscripts: Mali's ancient documents captured online

The Tombouctou Manuscripts Project

"Stacks of manuscripts, Timbuktu The Tombouctou Manuscripts Project, first conceptualised in 2002, was officially established in 2003 to research and document manuscript traditions in Africa. Over the past years, a Project team has been involved in the study of manuscript traditions in Africa, including manuscript translation, digitalisation and historical studies of book and library traditions. View more detailed information on the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project. Although the Project incorporates researchers from Africa and beyond, who are involved in studies of book history and manuscript traditions of Africa, the core team is based at South Africa’s University of Cape Town. The Project team is led by Prof Shamil Jeppie. Meet our team members. The Project focuses on manuscript traditions throughout the African continent, however, it was initially inspired by the written heritage of Timbuktu – a town that lies in the bend of the Niger River, where the Sahara Desert meets the Sahel (a semi-arid region south of the Sahara). Historically Timbuktu was an important centre of commerce and learning and, in contemporary times, has become a key symbol of African literary heritage. To learn more about Timbuktu, click here." from the website

The Manuscripts and Intellectual Legacy of Timbuktu

Video from Gresham College

"The Malian city of Timbuktu is one of the world's oldest seats of learning and has an intellectual legacy of hundreds of thousands of manuscripts, coming from three great West African desert empires: Ancient Ghana, medieval Mali, and the Songhai Empire. These manuscripts offer a unique window into their history. Many remain unread. This lecture will look at how their study can be used to advance our knowledge of the intellectual history of the premodern world. A lecture by Robin Walker, recorded live on 12 October 2022. The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:" from video introduction

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