Two men look over a thousands-year-old book in a doorway in Timbuktu, Mali. Timbuktu was once a seat of learning and housed hundreds of libraries and universities. In the centuries since, the books were buried in the sand in an attempt to preserve them. In recent years, people have begun to dig them up. There are international efforts to preserve these archives, but there is an increasing black market for them as well. 2007

 

Timbuktu is home to some 100,000 manuscripts, some of which date from pre-Islamic times and the 12th century. The manuscripts were among the treasures of wealthy families and universities in the town and have been passed down through generations. Many of the manuscripts were buried in the sand and only now are being unearthed. Most are written in Arabic or Fulani, and cover a wide variety of subjects including astronomy, music, and botany. International efforts are now underway to preserve them.

 

Little boys learn to write on wooden tablets in Timbuktu, Mali. Timbuktu was once a seat of learning and housed hundreds of libraries and universities. In the centuries since, the books were buried in the sand in an attempt to preserve them. In recent years, people have begun to dig them up. There are international efforts to preserve these archives, but there is an increasing black market for them as well. 2007

 

Timbuktu is home to some 100,000 manuscripts, some of which date from pre-Islamic times and the 12th century. The manuscripts were among the treasures of wealthy families and universities in the town and have been passed down through generations. Many of the manuscripts were buried in the sand and only now are being unearthed. Most are written in Arabic or Fulani, and cover a wide variety of subjects including astronomy, music, and botany. International efforts are now underway to preserve them.

 

Men rest under a tree in Behr, Mali located in the Sahara dessert outside of Timbuktu. Timbuktu was once a seat of learning and housed hundreds of libraries and universities. In the centuries since, the books from these libraries were buried in the sand in Behr in an attempt to preserve them. In recent years, people have begun to dig them up. There are international efforts to preserve these archives, but there is an increasing black market for them as well. 2007

 

Timbuktu is home to some 100,000 manuscripts, some of which date from pre-Islamic times and the 12th century. The manuscripts were among the treasures of wealthy families and universities in the town and have been passed down through generations. Many of the manuscripts were buried in the sand and only now are being unearthed. Most are written in Arabic or Fulani, and cover a wide variety of subjects including astronomy, music, and botany. International efforts are now underway to preserve them.

 

Old books are stacked in a house in Timbuktu, Mali. Timbuktu was once a seat of learning and housed hundreds of libraries and universities. In the centuries since, the books were buried in the sand in an attempt to preserve them. In recent years, people have begun to dig them up. There are international efforts to preserve these archives, but there is an increasing black market for them as well. 2007

 

Timbuktu is home to some 100,000 manuscripts, some of which date from pre-Islamic times and the 12th century. The manuscripts were among the treasures of wealthy families and universities in the town and have been passed down through generations. Many of the manuscripts were buried in the sand and only now are being unearthed. Most are written in Arabic or Fulani, and cover a wide variety of subjects including astronomy, music, and botany. International efforts are now underway to preserve them.

 

A little girl stand in a street in Timbuktu, Mali. Timbuktu was once a seat of learning and housed hundreds of libraries and universities. In the centuries since, the books were buried in the sand in an attempt to preserve them. In recent years, people have begun to dig them up. There are international efforts to preserve these archives, but there is an increasing black market for them as well. 2007

 

Timbuktu is home to some 100,000 manuscripts, some of which date from pre-Islamic times and the 12th century. The manuscripts were among the treasures of wealthy families and universities in the town and have been passed down through generations. Many of the manuscripts were buried in the sand and only now are being unearthed. Most are written in Arabic or Fulani, and cover a wide variety of subjects including astronomy, music, and botany. International efforts are now underway to preserve them.

 

Men leave after Friday prayers at the mosque in Timbuktu, Mali. Timbuktu was historically a trading town, and though the height of its trading days has passed, it remains a mixed population: Tuareg from the Sahara desert and Malians from the Niger delta. Timbuktu was also once a seat of learning and housed hundreds of libraries and universities. 2007

 

Timbuktu is home to some 100,000 manuscripts, some of which date from pre-Islamic times and the 12th century. The manuscripts were among the treasures of wealthy families and universities in the town and have been passed down through generations. Many of the manuscripts were buried in the sand and only now are being unearthed. Most are written in Arabic or Fulani, and cover a wide variety of subjects including astronomy, music, and botany. International efforts are now underway to preserve them.