The Timbuktu Manuscripts

Discover a trove of Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts

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"In the dark night of our present existence, manuscripts are the searchlights that probe our past."Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara, founder of SAVAMA-DCI

Explore a Universe of Verse

Take a closer look at more than 40,000 pages

"It’s been said that all the history of Africa is oral. We have more than 400,000 manuscripts here written uniquely by the hands of the hands of Africans. It’s a true Renaissance."Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara, founder of SAVAMA-DCI


The different types of calligraphy found in the Timbuktu manuscripts are Suūdᾱnī, Sahrᾱwī, Sūqī, Maghribī, and Sharqī. Book art reached its peak in the 16th century, in the Middle East, Persia, and West Africa.

Comments and Corrections

The manuscripts contain very few crossings-out as professional copyists were subject to rules that had to be respected to make the text readable. Copyists instead used symbols, here in red, to indicate changes, doubts or variations in the lines of text.

What makes a Timbuktu manuscript?

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Spot the details, page by page

Click to zoom in on damage, decoration, stamps, comments and more

Learn the tricks of the trade
Which material was NOT used to write Timbuktu's manuscripts upon?

Illustrated insight

A selection for the visual reader

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