Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Photos: Ancient manuscripts at risk in historic Timbuktu

Timbuktu, long a hub of Islamic learning, is home to up to 700,000 manuscripts, some dating back as far as the 12th century. On January 28, an unknown number of manuscripts at the Ahmed Baba institute — a library rich with historical documents — were burned or stolen in an act of retaliation, the city's mayor said.

1 of 7

In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, an unidentified worker looks after some of the 20,000 preserved ancient Islamic manuscripts which rest in air-conditioned rooms at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu, Mali.

Ben Curtis/AP

2 of 7

In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, some of the 20,000 preserved ancient Islamic manuscripts which rest in air-conditioned rooms are displayed at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu, Mali.

Ben Curtis/AP

3 of 7

In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts belonging to 48-year old Fatama Bocar Sambala, above, are shown in her mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali.

Ben Curtis/AP

4 of 7

In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts belonging to 48-year old Fatama Bocar Sambala, above-left, are shown in her mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali.

Ben Curtis/AP

Story continues below advertisement

5 of 7

In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, Alhousseini Ould Alfadrou, 16, sings verses from crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts in a mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali.

Ben Curtis/AP

6 of 7

In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, Alhousseini Ould Alfadrou, 16, sings verses from crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts in a mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali.

Ben Curtis/AP

7 of 7

In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, Alfa Telfi, 72, reads from his crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts in his mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali.

Ben Curtis/AP

Report an error
Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.