African Scholarly Legacy (01:49)
Experts discuss Africa's written tradition that predates European colonization.
Timbuktu Origins (02:20)
Founded by Muslim traders around 1,000 AD, the city prospered from trans-Saharan commerce. Learn the legend of its name.
Timbuktu Trade (01:59)
Timbuktu was a hub for caravans between North and Sub-Saharan Africa. View a reenactment of a 1592 marketplace.
Djinguereber Mosque (02:24)
Timbuktu's economic prosperity allowed spiritual and intellectual life; learn about Emperor Kankan Musa's mosque built in 1325 by an Andalusian architect.
Timbuktu Scholarship (01:22)
14th century academics learned Arabic to correspond with traders and to better understand Islam.
Sankore University (01:49)
14th century Muslim academics studied in mosques. Learn about Timbuktu's education system.
Timbuktu Manuscripts (02:34)
View 14th century religious and scientific pages written in Arabic. Literacy was universal and students voiced political opinions.
Ahmed Baba (04:17)
Learn about the 17th century scholar's background in Timbuktu. He taught law, literature, mathematics, astronomy and politics at Sankore University.
Colonizing Timbuktu (05:19)
Politically blocked by Europe and Turkey, Moroccan king al-Mansour invaded Sudan in 1578. Baba organized resistance and was among 70 scholars arrested.
Prisoner in Morocco (04:11)
Baba was transported to Marrakesh, where he was forced to do intellectual work. Moroccan colleagues lobbied al-Mansour to improve his living conditions.
Confronting a King (03:18)
Learn how Baba chastised al-Mansour for enslaving another Muslim, and gained his respect.
House Arrest (02:39)
Visit the Marrakesh home where Baba taught Moroccan scholars and spread awareness of Timbuktu's intellectual heritage.
Attack on Scholarship (02:26)
The king's son, Malway Zidan set Ahmed Baba free. Baba returned to Timbuktu to find the Moroccans had dismantled universities; he retreated until his death in 1626.
Timbuktu's Decline (01:46)
Experts present political and economic theories for the city's retreat from North African trade and scholarship.
Timbuktu's Resilience (01:23)
The desert city thrives in 2009. Residents believe isolation has protected it from epidemics and natural disasters.
Timbuktu's Scholarly Legacy (02:44)
Abdullah Abdarahim shows manuscripts inherited from his father. Family libraries are passed down through generations.
Al Wangari Library (02:34)
A Timbuktu family manuscript collection dates to 1523. Residents are proud of their African intellectual legacy.
Ahmed Baba Institute (03:11)
A Timbuktu manuscript center attracts African researchers. Mali and South Africa are funding restoration efforts; the director hopes the collection will inspire African development.
Preserving Timbuktu Manuscripts (02:18)
View footage of the Ahmed Baba Institute opening in 2009. Experts hope the ancient civilization's legacy will empower African scholars for generations.
Credits: The Manuscripts of Timbuktu (01:04)
Credits: The Manuscripts of Timbuktu
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