95 pc of Timbuktu manuscripts safe during rebel rule

The vast majority of Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts in state and private collections appear to be unharmed after the city's 10-month rule by fighters, experts said on Wednesday.

95 pc of Timbuktu manuscripts safe during rebel rule

World Bulletin / News Desk

The vast majority of Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts in state and private collections appear to be unharmed after the city's 10-month rule by fighters, experts said on Wednesday.

"I can say that the vast majority of the collections appear from our reports not to have been destroyed, damaged or harmed in any way," Cape Town University's Professor Shamil Jeppie, an expert on the Saharan city's manuscripts, told Reuters.

A Malian source also directly involved with the conservation of the Timbuktu manuscripts told Reuters 95 percent of the total documents, estimated to number just over 300,000 in the city and region, were "safe and sound".

But experts said that while up to 2,000 manuscripts may have been lost at the South African-funded Ahmed Baba Institute, the bulk of the around 300,000 texts existing in Timbuktu and its surrounding region were believed to be safe.

"I can say that the vast majority of the collections appear from our reports not to have been destroyed, damaged or harmed in any way," Cape Town University's Professor Shamil Jeppie, an expert on the Saharan city's manuscripts, told Reuters.

The two sources said that soon after fighters swept into Timbuktu on April 1, curators and collectors of the manuscripts had hidden the texts away for safety.

"They had shipped them out and distributed them around," Jeppie said. The Malian source, asking not to be named, said the manuscripts had been concealed "a little bit everywhere".

Some of the mansuscripts that constitute Timbuktu's "treasure of learning" date back to the 13th century.

Brittle, written in ornate calligraphy, and ranging from scholarly treatises to old commercial invoices, the documents represent a compendium of human knowledge on everything from law, sciences and medicine to history and politics. Some experts compare them in importance to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Ahmed Baba Institute, a Malian state library, is named after a Timbuktu-born contemporary of William Shakespeare and housed more than 20,000 ancient scholarly manuscripts.

Last Mod: 30 Ocak 2013, 14:30
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