A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Locals Rescue Timbuktu's Medieval Manuscripts
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
TIMBUKTU, MALI—Reports yesterday indicated that Islamic militants fleeing Timbuktu in the face of advancing Malian and French forces burned two libraries that were thought to hold some 40,000 medieval manuscripts. But the latest news is that most of those priceless texts, which are part of some 300,000 known historic documents stored in and around Timbuktu, were not destroyed after all. Before the rebels seized the city last year locals secretly removed most of the treasured manuscripts from the libraries. “They were put in a very safe place. I can guarantee you," said a Malian government official. "The manuscripts are in total security.” Archaeologists studying West Africa's medieval period rely on the documents for information about the economy and social order of the time.
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