Learning Exercise

Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu

A collection of Arabic manuscripts dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries found in Timbuktu, Mali reveal new insights into the religion, government, and social institutions of this west African nation.
Course: African History/World Civilization
Share

An extensive exhibition with commentary on Arabic manuscripts found in Timbuktu, Mali, the commercial center founded in... see more

Exercise

Instructions: Read all segments of the website "Ancient Manuscripts from the
Desert Libraries of Timbuktu." Answer the following questions:

1. Where is Mali located? Timbuktu?
2. What does the word "Timbuktu" mean in the West?
3. Why was Timbuktu an important city in 16th to 18th century Mali?
4. Why was Timbuktu difficult to find?
5. Briefly explain the content of the following manuscripts:
a. Structure of the Heavens.
b. The Law of Inheritance.
c. Laws of Commerce in Verse.
d. Songhai Empire and Islam.
e. The Law of Slavery.
f. Islamic Saints.
g. Islamic Mysticism.
h. Philosophical Exchanges.
i. The Rise and Setting Auspicious Stars.
j. Arithmetic Primer.
k. Islamic Doctrine.
l. Pillars of Iman (faith).
m. Law and Politics in the Songhai Empire.
n. Advice to Governors.
o. Ethical Behavior.
p. Answer to a Royal Request.

6. Write a two page essay explaining how the content described in items 5a to
5p offers a better understanding of Mali and Timbuktu's religion, government,
and social institutions from the 16th to the 18th century.
Additional Information: None.

Topics

Africa
Islam
Mali
Timbuktu

Learning Objectives

To acquaint students with the rich history of the fabled Mali city of Timbuktu.
To acquaint students with the role of Islam in shaping the history and culture of Mali.
To acquaint students with the role of African artifacts in revealing the history of West Africa.