I have always been intrigued by Timbuktu, a city fabled for its gold treasures and yet when treasure hunters struggled to find it, its mysterious reputation grew so much that dictionaries still today cite Timbuktu as “any distant or outlandish place” … and yet thanks to the adventures of Tin Tin, I knew it’s exact location.
Timbuktu can be found in the centre of the West African country of Mali, 20 km north of the river Niger on the border of the Sarah Desert. A city with humble beginnings as a trading post that soon became one of the most important links on the trans-Saharan trade route, selling salt, gold, ivory and slaves. Thanks to its economic expansion during the 13th and 14th century, Timbuktu also became one of Islams most important learning centres and by the early 14th century, the university of Sankoré, which at the time could house approximately 25000 students, was known as the largest university in the world. The university had a collection of 700,000 manuscripts which told the history of Africa, maths, astrology and the occult of science and medicine. Many of these manuscripts still exist today but are protected and hidden in various private libraries and homes to ensure their preservation. One can only imagine the mysterious stories of old they hold.