Daily Video

January 30, 2013

Mali Conflict Puts Manuscripts in Danger

Watch Ancient Manuscripts May Be Among Casualties of Mali Conflict on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Click here to download video

Although the city of Timbuktu in Mali is now an impoverished town of about 30,000 people, it has a long history as a place of scholarly learning. In the 11th century, long before the European Renaissance, thousands of people flocked to the city from other areas of Africa and the Middle East to study Islamic law, theology and a wide range of secular subjects.

“Well before there was an America, Timbuktu was a thriving center of learning, with the university. Professors were teaching philosophy, theology, mathematics,” said Professor Salem Ould El Hajj.

Today, the remnants of this past can be found in the more than 200,000 ancient manuscripts and other artifacts that are stored in private libraries and a large research center in Timbuktu. The city itself has been declared a United Nations World Heritage Site.

The conflict in Mali between French and Malian forces in the south and Islamist separatist groups in the north has endangered Timbuktu and its historic artifacts.


Quote

“Well before there was an America, Timbuktu was a thriving center of learning, with the university. Professors were teaching philosophy, theology, mathematics,” – Salem Ould El Hajj, professor.

Warm up questions

1. Where is Timbuktu?

2.  What can we learn from artifacts and ancient texts?

3. What does the word “university” mean?  What happens at universities?

Discussion questions

1. Why do you think it is important to preserve ancient manuscripts?

2. What do you think should or can be done to help preserve the manuscripts?

3. What are some manuscripts that document America’s history? How to we preserve them?

  • Tags:

  • Related Stories

    Tooltip of related stories

    More Videos

    Tooltip of more video block

    Submit Your Student Voice

    NewsHour Extra will not use contact information for any purpose other than our own records. We do not share information with any other organization.

    More Videos